Reviewed by Joyce Wong
Analog Church is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read that reminds us of the importance of embodied, in-person community, discipleship, worship, witness, fellowship, reading of scripture, and communion. In our digital age, we need to be more aware of and wise in how we use technology, how technology affects us, and be careful that we (as the church and as individuals) are not simply following in the world’s ways and values, especially when God calls us to be countercultural. In this pandemic season, we see that there is grace in technology, but we also experience its limitations as we long for the embodied community for which God created us. The foreword by Scot McKnight reminds us “There’s a theology behind what Jay Kim calls Analog Church, and it’s the incarnation,” and that though “we live in hybridity,” that hybridity should be “rooted in the embodied realities of analog” (2). Like Jesus, we also get to know and learn to love and walk alongside one another through embodied realities. Moreover, Christ has called and saved us into a community not of our own choosing or based on our similarities or interests (the way digital “communities” might be formed), but bound together by Him, by faith, by His Spirit, His blood, His hope, and His purposes.
I appreciated how Jay Kim wove in some scripture and some stories from his life to make concepts more concrete or show us examples of what living this out might look like. However, I also felt that some things or concepts were presented as dichotomies when the practical/wise navigating and living out of those things would be more nuanced (but I understand that books are also limited in scope and presenting those dichotomies can be a way to perhaps make those concepts more accessible and memorable). For example, he contrasts relevance and transcendence, and highlights the negative effects of our digital age, how the speed, choices, and individualism of our culture have made us more impatient, shallow, and isolated. The general concepts can be helpful, but I also would have liked to explore some of the nuances and questions around them. I also question if transcendence is the word to describe what people most long for or need; in many ways, our Christian life is a humble and ordinary one, too, and our God is both transcendent and immanent (near to us). At the same time, life with Christ and His community is an invitation to be transformed (and that can be uncomfortable), “to come out of hiding from behind our digital walls, to bridge our technological divides, and to be human with one another in the truest sense—gathering together to be changed and transformed in real time, in real space, in real ways” (12).
Tags: Christian Living / Spiritual Growth (LIV or DEV), jay y kim, joyce wong
*Disclaimer: Individual reviews are the reviewer’s own personal opinions and may not necessarily represent Mennonite Brethren doctrine or be in accordance with the Mennonite Brethren Statement of Faith (https://www.mennonitebrethren.ca/mb-convictions/the-mb-confession-of-faith-detailed-edition/).