Protestant Technology Myths

An interesting post over at Michael Sacasas’ “The Frailest Thing” on what he names the myth around the relationship between technology and Protestant Christianity, which he describes like this:

The myth, briefly stated in intentionally anachronistic terms, runs something like this. Marin Luther’s success was owed to his visionary embrace of a cutting edge media technology, the printing press. While the Catholic church reacted with a moral panic about the religious and social consequences of easily accessible information and their inability to control it, Luther and his followers understood that information wanted to be free and institutions needed to be disrupted. And history testifies to the rightness of Luther’s attitude toward new technology.

Sacacas contends that this myth isn’t untrue to some extent, but it does get used to sanction or ‘baptise’ technology uncritically, and to support a narrative to technological progress connected to an “adapt or die” mentality.

It’s worth a read, not the least because it comes with the caveat “Finally, big generalizations ahead. Carry on” (something more of my some of my students should use), and a reference to  Borg Complex claims about technology and church.

You can find the article here: The Technological Origins of Protestantism, or the Martin Luther Tech Myth | L.M. Sacasas

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2 Responses to Protestant Technology Myths

  1. Tim Bulkeley says:

    Thanks for linking to an interesting and well written post (no, they are not all like that 😉

    Is it just me though, or did he end up adding another myth (also at least partly true) that of technology causing the reformation? Are two myths better than one? Perhaps. Their existence in competition at least reminds us that truth is complex. The unanswered question is, what sorts of spirituality and church are digital media tending to produce/favour?

  2. Indeed. And the thing about myths is that there is often substantial truth in them, but they can get ‘out of hand’. Having two myths may serve as a corrective?

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