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The Book Of Jobs

I write in appreciation of Andrew Bacevich’s “Selling Our Souls” (August 12). Perhaps like him, I have felt alarm walking into a lifeless room full of young (and not so young) people adoring their phones and electronic pads, and I have sensed that something is terribly wrong here. As I read of Henry Adams’s dark vision of a dynamo-dominated world, I thought of the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix films, where humans are wired to a power grid by means of a spinal cable that powers the technology. That spinal cable would be nowhere near as efficient in accessing our central nervous systems as Apple’s iPhone, which wires our eyes and ears into the information grid. This raises idolatry to a new level, indeed. We become what we worship.

I also thought of Wendell Berry prophesying that technologies can destroy cultures as surely as they destroy environments. Instead of culture, we get culture wars, largely banal (cable news), but sometimes vivid, terrible, and tragic (Ireland’s Easter 1916, Germany’s Kristallnacht, or America’s 9/11).

I question only one part of the essay: “If the God of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament exists, then it must be he who wills this.” Must this de-humanizing reality truly be God’s will? As long as Jesus defines our new humanity, and the Holy Spirit “o’er the bent world broods,” don’t we have the freedom to love a different reality? I hope so, however dark the days to come.    

Thomas Crotty

Sinking Spring, Pa.

Andrew, Call Your Agent

I have read “Selling Our Souls” four times so far. The article is packed with powerful notions. My journey has taken me through Catholic schools, the priesthood, thirty-five years in business, marriage, children, and a dozen years teaching college history and religious studies, all of which has left me without faith. As I read and reread this article I no longer see myself as a renegade but a seeker in a world blown apart by change, invention, and communication. I hope Andrew Bacevich makes a book out of this article. It’s a powerful broadside.

Joseph A. Brown

San Antonio, Tex.

The End Is Nigh

As a scientist, life-long information-technology person (five decades and counting), and a Christian, I wonder if Andrew Bacevich could rise to the occasion for an encore. If machines have driven us to where we are (pun intended), given that we are at the peak of a cheap-energy hydrocarbon-based civilization, what will happen when we can no longer perform technological “miracles” because we can’t afford the energy?

Remember the dystopian 1984 Super Bowl commercial that introduced Macintosh computers (http://youtu.be/OYecfV3ubP8)? Things are about to be smashed that will change the way we look at the world.

Richard Kuebbing

Kennesaw, Ga.

Published in the 2011-09-23 issue: 
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