*Things have been full lately, so here we are a month late. I’m learning to hit send instead of continuing to mull over the right way to say it. Enjoy. – MK
§ Deformed by Distraction
I’ve been reading about spiritual disciplines since high school, and I still struggle to consistently do the thing I know will bring about the ends that I want. Willard says this is the general human failing, to “want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.”
I want to be formed by the Spirit into the image of Christ, and it feels like many days I am being deformed by app designers and dopamine. The road to sloth is paved with glowing rectangles.
And for all the warning of what is happening, we accommodate ourselves to being used by machines instead of using them. After plenty of books, talks, podcasts and posts about hurry, rest, sabbath, and habits—I can tell you there is plenty of data about the crisis of virtue in the western world, largely fed by the very tech we’ve trusted for deliverance from the weight of boredom and the thinness of our own character and relationships. This should be offensive to us, and it momentarily is if we will give our attention to it, but the cost to convenience, false connectedness, and the pull of dopamine (which is merely the anticipation of something good happening, not getting the good itself) keeps us bound.
I attended a conference put on by the Center for Pastor Theologians last month. Given their topic around technology and faith, I’ve been waiting for several of the talks to be available online. When they do, you will find it here. In the meantime, the CPT has released Felicia Su Wong’s talk, Digital Life as Secular Liturgy via their podcast. I took 6+ pages of notes during this talk, and am thankful to be able to hear it again. Note that it is in two parts on the podcast – episodes 34 + 35.
§ Get Wisdom.
In studying for lecture, I was struck by how in our secular, post-christian world, we have traded the classical view of wisdom for the availability of information. The internet in your pocket has leveled the street value of experience and expertise. Life hacks, how to guides, and self-help books have replaced the call of the scriptures to get wisdom, because they have built the foundation of wisdom on self, and not upon faith in our Creating God. The Bible says at all costs, get wisdom—our modern culture seeks wisdom through information, and we trust in our own judgement, our own rationalism more than revealed knowledge.
It reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s poem:
Choruses from the Rock
The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
o perpetual revolution of configured stars,
o perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
o world of spring and autumn, birth and dying
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.
§ Are you successful?
I really enjoyed this video from Ned Bustard, an illustrator whose work I first came across in Every Moment Holy. (Note: I would buy this book, and consider giving it as a gift this Christmas. It is uniquely special.) Now don’t let that distract you from this video.
“We were made, in joy, to make things in and for joy.” Amen and amen.
- I’m looking forward to reading through Isaiah this year during Advent via Tony Reinke’s reading plan. It starts this Sunday if you want to join in.
- My wife and I have really enjoyed listening and talking through John Mark Comer and Jefferson Bethke’s podcast: Fight Hustle, End Hurry.
- On a recent trip I finally got to see the movie, Yesterday. I enjoyed it so much I watched it on both legs of the trip. Since then I’ve been happily humming the Beatles with zero regrets.
- My oldest child and I are working through Ryan Lister’s new work, Emblems of the Infinite King, and it is fantastic. As a theology primer for kids, it is giving me language to use with adults. Ryan has done a great job, and the book itself is illustrated beautifully.
- If you made it this far, cheers! I’d love to hear from you on twitter or instagram.