Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spiritual Formation As Creational and Relational Is Thwarted by Multitasking

My snow-covered prayer chair,
by the river in our backyard

I'm interested in the effects of multitasking on spiritual formation and transformation. Spiritual formation is relational, between the self and God. One places oneself in the hands of God (metaphorically speaking), thus allowing God to shape the heart as a potter shapes clay.

To do this one must monotask, or as some call it, "unitask." One engages in a singular relationship, like two lovers on a date over dinner transfixed on one another. To be spiritually formed and transformed one must be attached, in relationship, to God. This is creational activity. Multitasking thwarts this.

I teach logic and critical thinking. Multitasking thwarts this, too. In both spiritual formation and critical thinking one goes "deeper." Multitasking keeps a person in the shallows, on the surface. In multitasking we are a mile wide and an inch deep.

Gardner and Davis quote cognitive neuroscientist Jonathan Grafman, who writes:

“I think that one of the big trade-offs between multitasking and ‘unitasking,’ as I call it, is that in multitasking, the opportunity for deeper thinking, for deliberation, or for abstract thinking is much more limited. You have to rely more on surface-level information, and that is not a good recipe for creativity or invention.” 

Gardner and Davis comment:

"In support of this claim, there is evidence that individuals who engaged in multitasking displayed cognitive processing that was less flexible and more automatic than subjects who engaged in a single task." 
- Howard, Gardner; Katie Davis. The App Generation, p. 146. Yale University Press.

To be in a process of spiritual transformation one must be "flexible," and oft-engaged in a single task. Which is: purity of heart before God.