Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age

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Selfies are ubiquitous. They can be silly or serious, casual or curated. Within moments, smart phone users can capture their image and post it across multiple social media platforms to a global audience. But do we truly understand the power of image in our image-saturated age? How can we seek God and care for each other in digital spaces?

Craig Detweiler, a nationally known writer and speaker and an avid social media user, examines the selfie phenomenon, placing selfies within the long history of self-portraits in art, literature, and photography. He shows how self-portraits change our perspective of ourselves and each other in family dynamics, education, and discipleship. Challenging us to push past unhealthy obsessions with beauty, wealth, and fame, Detweiler helps us to develop a thoughtful, biblical perspective on selfies and social media and to put ourselves in proper relation to God and each other. He also explains the implications of social media for an emerging generation, making this book a useful conversation starter in homes, churches, and classrooms. Each chapter ends with discussion questions and a photo assignment for creating a selfie in response to the chapter.

1. Introduction: How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Selfie?
2. Reflected Beauty: The Ancient Self
3. Mastering the Mirror: A Renaissance of the Self
4. Reframing Memories: The Literary Self
5. Seizing the Light: Photographing Ourselves
6. Behind the Mask: The Psychological Self
7. Instapressure: The Selfie Today
8. Augmented and Transfigured: The Selfie Tomorrow


"Craig Detweiler's Selfies helps us journey beyond our narcissistic culture, giving us language to move away from an ego-filled self-expression to our true identities hidden in Christ. Reflecting Detweiler's impressive grasp of art history and deep wisdom attained in media ecology, Selfies is both an invaluable guide for understanding our techno world with all its trappings and a book full of delightful observations."

Makoto Fujimura, artist and director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, Fuller Theological Seminary

"I don't know anyone who can connect the dots between centuries of church history and twenty-first-century selfies like Craig Detweiler. This book has changed the way I think about the images I see and share as well as the image of God in all of us."

Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute; coauthor of Growing Young

"Craig Detweiler takes us on a fabulous journey through history in search of the first selfie. Stories of Narcissus, Rembrandt, Bayard, and Kim Kardashian provide a fascinating backdrop for understanding why it feels so good to get the perfect shot of me."

Peggy Kendall, professor of communication studies, Bethel University; author of Reboot: Refreshing Your Faith in a High-Tech World

"Detweiler's book is a Rosetta stone for people of faith bewildered by the seeming narcissism of the ubiquitous selfie. He taps the collective wisdom found in Greek mythology, art history, psychoanalysis, and media criticism to help translate biblical principles to this troubling use of technology. Selfies encourages readers to view the images of others and ourselves with compassion and curiosity and to see past the image to the collective longing to be known. It is a dare to forego the rush to judgment and instead to linger and learn."

Lisa Swain, associate professor of cinema and media arts, Biola University

"Craig Detweiler has done it again. Selfies is a pragmatic sociotheological examination of social media use among many young adults and youth. Detweiler presents us with a critically informed view of current media consumption that asks all of us, How do we consume and do we realize what we consume? This brilliant book does not simply bash media but critically explores it while presenting the good, the bad, and the very ugly. A must-read for anyone who spends even a minute on the internet or near any media outlet."

Daniel White Hodge, associate professor of intercultural communication, North Park University; author of Homeland Insecurity: A Hip-Hop Missiology for the Post-Civil Rights Context

The Author

  1. Craig Detweiler

    Craig Detweiler

    Craig Detweiler (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is an author, award-winning filmmaker, and cultural commentator who has been featured in the New York Times and on CNN, NPR, Fox News, and ABC's Nightline. He is president of...

    Continue reading about Craig Detweiler


"In this accessible book, Detweiler . . . skillfully navigates the complications of living a spiritual life in the age of social media. . . . Although he is wary of the corrosive effects of distorting one's self-image to conform to external standards, he proposes stripping the veneer from self-portraiture in order to foster connection. . . . Detweiler's work also includes self-portrait photographs and artworks from the past in order to consider 'modes of communication' across generations. Christian readers will appreciate Detweiler's detailed book on how individuals might best traverse social media with character and confidence."

Publishers Weekly