Sunday, January 01, 2012

Freedom Software Downloaded Into My Soul

One of my backyard friends
Pico Iyer has written this excellent piece on the human need for solitude in the nytimes - "The Joy of Quiet." Here are some of the points, with my thoughts. (Thanks Steve for linking me to this.)

One reason why creative, cutting-edge people are that way is because they do not watch TV and live apart from the media. They "live outside conventional ideas." Their art, therefore, is unconventional. Needed for creativity: time away from media, and even people, to slow-cook in ideas. Re. sermon preparation, I take hours a week to get alone, even walking, with the scriptures I'm preaching on. Beware of microwaved sermons!
  • Some people are paying money to go away to "black hole resorts," "which charge high prices precisely because you can’t get online in their rooms." One pays for the "privilege of not having a TV in their rooms." Amazing.
  • "In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight." Richard Foster wrote about the myth of "time-saving devices" years ago in A Celebration of Discipline.
  • Internet rescue camps in South Korea and China try to save kids addicted to the screen.
  • Some people are paying “good money to get the Freedom software that enables them to disable (for up to eight hours) the very Internet connections that seemed so emancipating not long ago. Even Intel (of all companies) experimented in 2007 with conferring four uninterrupted hours of quiet time every Tuesday morning on 300 engineers and managers.” Paying... to disconnect from the Internet? I wonder if this might work: 1) Take hand. 2) Pull plug out of modem. Cost: nothing.
  • The children of tomorrow will crave freedom from the Internet. This is because "luxury is a function of scarcity." Freedom from the Internet is getting scarce. To be alone, to live in quiet and solitude as part of a creative, spiritual life, is rare. It will become valued, but hard to find, and it may cost money.
  • "All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone." - Pascal
  • In our culture, convenience has surpassed content. This is misleading. Thoreau said: “the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages.”
  • “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.” - Marshall McLuhan
  • "Man was made for the highest activity, which is, in fact, his rest.” - Thomas Merton
  • But, sadly, we don't hear these voices because "“breaking news” is coming through (perpetually) on CNN and Debbie is just posting images of her summer vacation and the phone is ringing. We barely have enough time to see how little time we have (most Web pages, researchers find, are visited for 10 seconds or less). And the more that floods in on us (the Kardashians, Obamacare, “Dancing with the Stars”), the less of ourselves we have to give to every snippet."
  • We have more and more to communicate, and less and less to say.
  • "The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual. All the data in the world cannot teach us how to sift through data; images don’t show us how to process images." 
  • Given these realities, what are we to do? "The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen."
For some practical ideas of what to do about all this, see Ayer's entire article.
As for me, I'll continue, this week, to:
  • Take much time alone, with God, praying and listening and allow God's Spirit to move deep within me. I've been doing this for 35 years, so I'm in a good groove - I can't stop now!
  • Out of this quiet and solitude, where my heart and mind get stilled, comes what I do in life. Here's the order of priority: 1) Being; then 2) Doing. Never let Doing define Being.
  • I spend several hours at Internet Rescue Camp.
The Freedom Software was downloaded into me years ago, and is still running.