Sunday, October 12, 2014
31 Days of Courage: The Courage to Unplug
Sadly, I understand the addiction. I’m not so much of a high tech addict. I have a “dumb phone” and I don’t feel compelled to check my email and facebook page all the time. But I do have a problem I’ve dealt with for almost my entire adult life. And I can honestly say, with great trepidation, that I’m doing ok with that at the moment. You see, I’m a talk radio junkie.
For many years I would have the blah, blah, blah on in the background as a matter of course. I’d get in the car, on with the radio. I’d work in the kitchen, on with the radio. Despite feeling restless, anxious and negative from the listening, I listened on. There was a true sickness to the whole thing. It seemed innocent on the outside, but it was wildly unhealthy on the inside. When I finally felt enough of the yuck, I stopped. I unplugged. And though I’m always in danger of going back to the mind numbing yacking, I’m so much better off without it.
The whole culture has gone mad with noise and distraction. We seem to be afraid of quiet. Reflection and contemplation are disciplines of a former time. This diabolical turn that has taken place in just the last 50 years, and in particular the last 20 years has clearly not improved our happiness factor. Technology has made possible a world of good. And a world of evil.
Socrates eloquently said:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
That’s a bold statement, shimmering with truth for today. And the interior life cannot be examined with an I-phone, twitter account or video game. It takes place alone, in sometimes uncomfortable stretches of quiet thought. The enemy of our souls wants at that quiet so that no self- examination takes place. So we’ll remain plugged in and unaware of the deeper meaning, like the lifeless masses in the movie “The Matrix”, or the fodder for devilish delight in C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece “The Screwtape Letters”.
It takes no small effort to walk away from our phones, our televisions, our radios, and our laptops and determine to consider and relate to God and man in real life.
Listen, I’m not saying these things are wrong in and of themselves. (And believe me when I say I’m preaching to myself here!) But isn’t there a point where we must be the boss and say “enough”? Where we shut the door to our room, put the phone on silent, and simply spend time thinking, reading, meditating, praying…
In the world we live in, that may be considered an act of courage. Because I can tell you for sure, if you get quiet you’re going to notice that you need to change. There’s no getting around it and there’s no missing it. Turn down the volume, visual and auditory, and up comes the truth. The liberating, powerful, beautiful truth of who we are and who God is.
It’s ironic that I’m using an electronic medium to communicate this concept. But again, this isn’t about bashing technology but illuminating idolatry. And only you know when you’ve crossed that line. Only you can be brave enough to admit it and unplug. Only you know how much is enough. (Parents have to make those decision for their young children too so they aren’t eaten alive by the technology beast. I admit I haven’t been as strong in that as I ought to have been. I need mercy there too).
With all the understanding I can muster I say please don’t feel condemned, but please do be bold and strong. Jesus exhorted his friends to “come away to a quiet place.”
God help us, do they even exist anymore?
Your friend on the pilgrim road,