Three random thoughts on a Monday  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,


Yesterday was Sunday, and I was impressed more than is usual by the time of Confession in the liturgy. I was raised in a tradition where this is not included in church meetings, the argument being that no biblical text can be named that commands its inclusion. No one seemed to notice that the order of service we followed was as I see things now, painfully human-centric, nor that the historic liturgy we rejected was shaped by the demands of the gospel. So, Confession usually catches my attention but yesterday it did so rather sharply. “We are a mess,” the pastor said, “and making a mess,” and then drew our attention to Titus 3:2. There we are told, “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Surely the apostle didn’t mean for us to apply that during a presidential primary season.

A friend mentioned that he has taken to asking a question before meetings, discussions, and classes begin: “What will you do in order to be fully present while we are together?” Recently I have noticed elders FaceBooking during a worship service, friends checking email on iPhones during conversations, people Tweeting during discussions, and others surfing the Internet on laptops that were supposedly there in order to take notes. In each case their actions had an effect on me, convincing me that they were intentionally only partially present though each would insist, I am certain, that they be taken fully seriously as a participant.

I turned on the car radio only to discover NPR was in a membership drive, which is fine, except that it makes for poor listening, which is, I suppose, the point. The commentator, needing to fill airtime, had repeated the phone number to call with our pledge several times and clearly needed to say something else, so mentioned, “NPR news is your compass in a world of information.” I thought that a bit weak and wondered if telling jokes wouldn’t raise more money, but then got to wondering what served as a compass in my life. What helped me sort out fact from fiction, the important from the merely urgent, the deeper things from the ubiquitously loud. I decided the answer was Creation, Fall, Redemption & Restoration—the four part melody in the great orchestral suite of life that grounds us in the grand story of reality. Without it acting like a GPS to point to the hope of home, I am lost in the cosmos.

This entry was posted at Monday, January 30, 2012 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

I think these thoughts are not so random, and I think I will try and come back soon, and reread them.

February 2, 2012 at 11:48 PM

I think it was about a year ago that you linked to some articles discussing the newly-understood science of what our technology does to our brain (what stuck with me is that we've become very good at assessing a webpage for its relevance to what we need, and have shortened our attention spans and become physiologically addicted, in some cases, to social media.)

The quote of your friend about being "fully present" takes quite a lot of discipline to even realize it's taking place. It's a shift that's difficult to recognize. I found myself talking on my cell phone while out to lunch with my aunt last week, just the two of us, and was appropriately embarrassed.

Thanks for being aware.

February 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM

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