Volume 16 Issue 9
So what is the iPod factor? Let us say for this discussion that it is a pop-culture iconic symbol of modernity. It is the gotta have gadget. The owner of an iPod is cool.
I read recently that the coolest thing on college campuses is iPoding. This is more popular, the article noted, than the traditional beer party (the second coolest thing). IPODING is the use of and the interacting with Apple Computers mp3 player (the iPod) for messages, music, pictures, lectures, movies, photos and the sharing of these with friends. Some colleges provide much of their teaching material on the iPod. Apple Computers little device has captured the world. It one of the worlds most successful consumer products ever, dominating the market with over 70% of the sales against all competitors. Concurrently, iTunes, Apples revolutionary music download website has already sold more than a billion downloads at one dollar each. To not have an iPod is to be totally uncool. Young people feel that if they do not possess an iPod they are just nothing. I feel, if I might add, a certain affection for my own iPod, and I confess to having said I could not live without it.
The iPod, I would argue, is the symbol of modernity. The word modernity means that which relates to the present as opposed to the past. (Oxford). It is a derivative from the Latin word modernus or modo meaning just now. This may seem innocuous, but the desire for nowness or the just now can become an obsession. Such an obsession might be thought of as the force of modernity – the iPod Factor.
An obsession to experience or possess the latest thing, to be in the now as an identity of worth or coolness, may go beyond an obsession to a mental disorder. In this case modernity is opposed to the past to a fault; it is completely repulsed by the past. In the mind of such an obsessed person, the past holds one captive. If a thing is new, it must be better, it must be cool. It must be liberating. This of course is not true. But the mindset of such an idea is a force. It is a magnet. It draws one into compulsions, into inexplicable behavior. The cries of the nowness addict are I must have it now and I must be cutting edge. Being updated, being in line with the latest fashion, gadget issue or thought is a necessity. The cost does not matter. What others may think does not matter. These kinds of desires are what lead young women to tattoo their bodies, to dress in a shameful manner, to commit lewd acts, to meet computer stalkers at the risk of their lives — to say nothing of their morals. The one thing an addiction to Just Now must avoid is anything that is not new, not cool, not in, and not fashionable. What one throws away to get whatever satisfies this craving is irrelevant.
In the church we fight the force of modernity. So called old school is rejected not because someone has necessarily discovered better; but people seek new because of the need for cool; and they need cool because cool represents a new paradigm of church. In this context, some embrace homosexuality, not because they actually desire to practice homosexuality, but rather because it is cool. It is now. It represents a new paradigm of thought and practice. It is a break from the old way the way of rules, of doctrine, of authority. In this compulsion for modernity, one fails to give thought to whether new things are important, valid, vital, essential, or truthful. Modernity deconstructs for the purpose of replacing. The search is not for truth but acceptance. The drive is for success, not the favor of God.
Don’t confuse what I am saying here as a resistance to all change. Change is good, necessary, and part of any healthy happy life. Consider the rebuke God gave certain people in Psalm 55:19 because they have no changes. They were afflicted because they would not change in order to obey God! We no doubt need to make many changes to overcome the challenges of reaching our complex generation. What I am talking about, however, is more like blindly following a line of cars without asking where they are going — and yet believing that you will arrive at your chosen destination. It is like hopping a plane without asking where its landing. That, by analogy, is the force of modernity. It compels us to follow the crowd without questioning the outcome.
Revolutions tear down and rebuild. Revolutions disassociate and realign. Even the use of revolutionary technology has effects on our lives. When we set aside values, beliefs, convictions, doctrine to be part of the world, or to indulge in our affections directed toward the world, or to embrace the latest revolution, or, if I may be bold, to join the latest therapy group, our lives are altered. Such actions have consequences.
What we are facing today is a powerful weapon in the enemy’s arsenal. It is the force of modernity the iPod Factor to the degree of an obsession. The Now is in the minds our young people, driven by the desire for the newest whatever, pumped up by billions of dollars in advertising budgets. And like most things, it flops over into the church. It challenges our programs, our revivals, our effectiveness; it distracts our attention from the holy, the true, the pure, and the cross of Christ. It brings generational division.
But it is not new. Read carefully Acts 17:21: For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.