Please welcome author of There Comes a Prophet David Litwack.
Have we become civilized enough to open Pandora’s box? Or is technology inherently evil?
Years ago, I developed a successful software product that was used extensively by lots ofbusinesses. One week, two orders came in. One was from a well-known but not well-regardedcharacter, someone most people would consider unsavory. But he ran a large organization and like any other such business, he needed computerized systems to operate. The next day, we received an order from the children’s hospital of a large city. I felt bad about doing business withthe unsavory guy (though he ran a legitimate business and was breaking no laws), but good about the hospital.
A year later, I had the opportunity to visit the children’s hospital. A room full of doctors told mehow my software had helped save lives and made the hospital experience so much better for theiryoung patients. I felt great but learned that technology is amoral, nothing more than a tool. The morality comes from the mind and heart of the user. It’s we who are the problem.
There Comes a Prophet poses the following questions: Can we be trusted to wisely use the ever increasing power that comes with new technology? And if we believe the answer is no, do wehave the right to restrict the human need to learn, to explore, to invent, and to fulfill our potential?
The story takes place in a society devoid of technology, the result of an overreaction to a more advanced past where progress had overtaken humanity and led to social collapse. The solution—an enforced return to a simpler time. But Prophet is also a coming of age story, a tale of three friends and their loyalty to each other as they struggle to confront a world gone awry. Each searches for the courage to fight the limits imposed by their leaders, along the way discovering their unique talents and purpose in life.
Its villain, the arch vicar, is far from evil. In his youth, as he progressed through the ranks of thetemple clergy, he became fascinated by the secrets hidden in the archives, the hidden wonders that wizards of the past had created. But he was also appalled by the horrors they caused. He made what he believed to be a moral choice: to suppress the people’s desire to be more than theycurrently are in the name of maintaining a peaceful world. He chose repression and stagnation asthe moral thing to do.
On the other hand, the three young protagonists, Nathaniel, Thomas and Orah, start out unaware of how much had once been accomplished, viewing the few remnants of lost technology as “temple magic,” something to be feared. As they discover the wonders of the past, their response is not fear, but a desire to know more, to learn how to create and invent as their ancestors once had.
They had never witnessed the horrors technology can bring. Were they right, that progressshould be allowed to go on without boundaries or restraint? Or did the Arch Vicar hold the high moral ground, aware of the holocaust that had occurred in the distant past and committed to keepit from happening again?
Today, in our own world, the pace of progress is actually accelerating. Are we ready for what we might become?