Also by this author: Analog Church: Why We Need Real People, Places, and Things in the Digital Age
Published by IVP on July 26, 2022
The digital age is in the business of commodifying our attention. The technologies of our day are determined to keep us scrolling and swiping at all costs, plugged into a feedback loop of impatience, comparison, outrage, and contempt. Blind to the dangers, we enjoy its temporary pleasures, unaware of the damage to our souls.
Jay Kim's Analog Church explored the ways the digital age and its values affect the life of the church. In Analog Christian, he asks the same question of Christian discipleship. As the digital age inclines us to discontentment, fragility, and foolishness, how are followers of Jesus to respond? What is the theological basis for living in creative resistance to the forces of our day? How can Christians cultivate the contentment, resilience, and wisdom to not only survive but to thrive as we navigate the specific challenges of our age?
Back in 2020, I greatly enjoyed Analog Church, Jay Y. Kim’s prescient book about the importance of church gatherings and the physical elements of the Christian faith. In this follow-up book, he addresses themes from the pandemic and long-running issues related to people’s digital habits and conduct online. I wasn’t sure if this book would be as unique and special as Analog Church, but Analog Christian: Cultivating Contentment, Resilience, and Wisdom in the Digital Age offers a distinct perspective and a helpful framework for understanding the deeper heart issues involved in how our digital devices are shaping us.
Fruits of the Spirit
Kim organizes this book around the fruits of the Spirit, showing how each one helps us heal from the toxic mindsets and behaviors that the digital world cultivates. For example, he writes about choosing love instead of “self-centric despair,” and about cultivating peace rather than contempt. He frequently illustrates concepts with meaningful stories, and he weaves Bible verses into his writing in a natural, holistic way. They never seem tacked-on, and are an integral part of his perspective.
I appreciate the depths of wisdom and spiritual maturity that Kim brought to this project, and they especially shine through in the chapters about contempt and hostility. He writes about political division without drawing his own lines in the sand, and he never blames The Other Side for the rage, despair, and relational dysfunction that we see around us. In fact, he never takes a side at all, and when he writes about destructive things that people do, he shares recognizable examples from both sides of the political divide. I’m used to people using the topic of division as a chance to jab at the people they disagree with, but Kim never does this once in the entire book, exemplifying the virtues he is encouraging.
Analog Christian is a great book for mature teenagers and adults who want to reevaluate how the digital world is shaping them. However, this book isn’t about life hacks or breaking a phone addiction. It goes much deeper than that. Kim shares essential context about why digital technologies are so influential, seductive, and habit-changing, so no one needs to read a sociological study first, but people like me who have already read lots of books about the dark side of the digital world will still find new insights to ponder here. Kim reframes the whole problem in light of spiritual maturity and habits of character, and in so doing, he provides a path forward that promises far more than surface-level changes.