Case study note 5 - Focal Things To develop this bridge...

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Focal Things To develop this bridge between education and formation and to help shift our expectations about learning from consumption of information to "dwelling with," I begin with the work of philosopher Albert Borgmann (1984). Borgmann's work is helpful for assessing the effect of cultural contexts and practices on religious practice and formation, particularly his distinction between "devices" and "focal things" or "focal practices." One of Borgmann's primary concerns is with the way technological advances have created a "device paradigm" that draws us away from central or focal things. In this paradigm, technology is seen as a device for delivering some commodity and, as such, draws us further into consumerist approaches to the world around us, to our approach to knowledge, and to church. Devices, Borgmann (1984) argues, are intended to "make goods and services
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available" (p. 42) in the most convenient and least conspicuous way; they are available to "be enjoyed as a mere end unencumbered by means" (p. 44); they make possible anonymity or, at
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  • Fall '13
  • GS
  • Borgmann, Albert Borgmann

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