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Reviewed by Alyse Lehrke COM 605, Spring Arbor University “Sight is spatial,” Ellul observed. “Sound’s domain is temporal, and it inserts us within a duration rather than an expanse” (Ellul, 1981/1985, p. 13). Sight situates us in our present reality, showing us where we are and what surrounds us. What we hear is fleeting as the sound penetrates the silence. Sight deals in reality whereas hearing, and specifically the spoken word, functions in the realm of Truth. Ellul’s main contention is that images have subordinated language to such an extent that reality is elevated and truth is abandoned. The invisible Word reflects the Truth of the invisible God. God’s identity is revealed by His word, just as Jesus was known by the truth He spoke not by His physical appearance. “The only possible relationship with God is based on the word, and nothing else. This is because the biblical God speaks, and does nothing else” (Ellul, p. 71). The word is intrinsically connected to relationship as it invites a response and offers space for dialogue - speaking and listening. Through speaking, God invites His creation into relationship with Himself; the word is the essence of relationship. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. ~ John 20:29, NIV Reality asserts itself in the glorification of science and the demand for visible evidence as proof. Technology teaches us the supremacy of the image as concepts are visualized rather than spoken. Reality is confused with truth because images have choked out the word, and words have lost their meaning. Computers and other technologies, according to Ellul, are increasing the division between image and word as all knowledge that cannot be computed through technological means fall away. Since God exists in the realm of truth (word) rather than reality (image), He is being systematically excluded by a technological reality that demands evidence as proof. Postman (1992) stated: “The battle [Scopes “monkey” trial] settled the issue, once and for all: in defining truth, the great narrative of inductive science takes precedence over the great narrative of Genesis, and those who do not agree must remain in an intellectual backwater” (p. 50). “Only this reality can be known and can thus be the object of scientific research and true [sic] knowledge” (Ellul, p. 219). “Suddenly the tragic discovery was made that words were only words, without power to act” (Ellul, p. 155). Disconnected from their source – the God who speaks – words become noise, empty filler, or instrumental tools of technology. Ellul points to the reconciliation of image and word in the return of Christ. Only then will Truth and reality permeate each other, allowing image to express truth. As Christians, we need to critically evaluate our use of technology and its impact on the communication of truth. Dialogue and relationships have suffered as a result of the visual and technological “progress” that has diminished the word. When we value dialogue and build meaningful relationships, we counteract the effects of a culture consumed by images. “When we seek measurement over meaning, we adopt the language of probability rather than virtue, essentially making mathematics the preeminent route to all knowledge, and probabilities the means of discerning the value of human actions” (Schultze, 2002, p. 41). We must re-instate the invisible elements of the world through faith. Knowledge that depends on the Truth of an invisible God; wisdom that must be discerned rather than measured. We need to infuse the word with meaning once again. Nouwen (1981) observed, “The word no longer communicates, no longer fosters communion, no longer creates community, and therefore no longer gives life” (pp. 38-39). As Christians in a technological world, our aim is not to avoid images or technology but to elevate truth, God’s Truth; to speak a word connected to His Word; and to put our hope in the return of Christ rather than the false promises of technology. Ellul, J. (1985). The Humiliation of the Word (J. Main Hanks, Trans.). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. (Original work published 1981) McKibben, B. (2006). The age of missing information. New York, NY: Random House. Nouwen, H. J. M. (1981). The way of the heart: Connecting with God through prayer, wisdom, and silence. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York, NY: Vintage. Schultze, Q. J. (2000). Communicating for life: Christian stewardship in community and media. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Schultze, Q. J. (2002). Habits of the high-tech heart: Living virtuously in the information age. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.