Monday, February 15, 2010

A Techno-Fast for Lent!

"Hi, my name is Bill, and I'm a technoholic."
"Hiiii Biiiill...."
I grab my cell phone between 6 and 12 times an hour to send or receive a text, e-mail, update/check Facebook, or to micro-blog through Twitter.
I have ten pages of apps on my iPhone, from the Mass readings to the Church Fathers, CNN to Craig's List, and games galore. I listen to music on the way to work, at school, and on occasional walks around campus. At home, Apple TV allows us to stream our music and photos over the television, and surf YouTube as well. I have taken well over 10,000 pictures since I got the iPhone nearly three years ago. I love to blog, and listen to podcasts. And I need to let it go.
A man is enslaved to whatever he cannot part with that is less than himself.
- George MacDonald
Let me say straight away that it is good. The wonders we have created by our hands... amazing! But what is the one thing necessary in this life? What is the summum bonum that the saints and mystics have pointed to and that to which the dying man reaches while lying in his bed at the end of his days? Tools of communication, or a deeper Communion?
At the end of the day, it's all about relationships, isn't it? And as much as these tools can help facilitate communication and convenience (trust me, I am their biggest fan) they cannot replace the warm face before me, my wife and son, the students I am privileged to guide, the person on the street, the cashier at the grocery store. Flesh and blood, immortal souls each with their own story. Fr. Benedict Groeschel once said "Forget the TV... give me a person any day. People interest me!"
I was talking to a good friend today who, coincidentally, is also fasting from technology for Lent. We're excited about this 40 Day Dare. "It's all about silence this Lent for me" he said.
God speaks in silence. Silence is His native tongue. The world, the stars, the flowers move in silence. I have opened myself up to too much noise. I feel myself slipping sometimes, reaching into my pocket for that phone, checking it incessantly, like the Ring.... the Precious!
"I feel like butter scraped over too much bread.... I need a holiday! I want to see mountains again, Gandalf. Mountains!"
- Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings
Can you become possessed by your possessions? Can the device made to serve you become your master? The mystics say that slavery is to give yourself to anything less than God. To make anything other than God your god is to become a slave to that thing. So I'm signing off for awhile, to "front only the essential facts of life." My plan is to drink the coffee slowly and attentively, to read Louis de Montfort, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross. To spend more time before the Tabernacle than a computer screen. To give time to God and family and others, not in splintered, fragmented bytes but in a whole-hearted, long and loving gaze.
So into the desert we go! Off the grid for 40 days! See you on the other side!
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