As I prepared my paper and talk on blogging and theology I looked for examples of how blogging helps and hurts in the task of theologizing. In my search I came across the post "On Blogging and informationism," at Prosthesis (aka, the best blog you are not currently reading). In that post Macht, the author, interacts with Quentin Schultze's book - Habits of the High Tech Heart. We preachers are told that, in every message we should give some application of the message or something to do. Since Macht's post was so good I responded in the most natural way possible - I went out and bought the book.
Drawing on de Toqueville, Jacques Ellul and others Schultze looks at the way the information revolution brought on by technology in general and internet in particular is impacting and even replacing our ability to reason morally. On page 19 Schultze illustrates this:
We also naively believe that for most personal and social needs there must be largely technological solutions, such as Web-filtering software designed to protect children from cyber-pornographers.
I found that to be a compelling example of Schultze's thesis. Before the rise of the technological society, we were protected against immorality by moral and religious instruction, developing character traits, and habits of mind and heart that enabled us to resist the pull of immorality.
In our day, we assume that the solution to immorality is an online filter or giving away the TV, avoiding movies, etc.. I do think filters have their place and indeed, there are many TV shows and movies I won't watch.
But in assuming that the answer to immorality is a filter we are offering a technological solution to a moral problem. Noting that the apostle Paul planted churches in such moral cesspools as Rome, Corinth and Ephesus, it strikes me that the Christians of the first generation had a faith that was assumed to be able to withstand temptation. In my own experience, it seems that Christians today assume we can't withstand temptation, that none of us has the moral fortitude to do so.
So, while acknowledging that web filters have a place and there are entertainments that ought to be avoided, I suggest that "the crying need of the hour" is the cultivation of the kind of moral reasoning and character development that can teach us to say no to immorality. Moral problems have moral, not technological solutions.
Deeper than that, the greatest need is cultivating a taste for Christ that renders the various immoralities of the world tasteless.