“We have followed too much the devices and desires of our hearts.” BCP 1928

This phrase from a well-loved prayer we pray each Sunday morning has taken on new meaning for me.   

There’s so much buzz about the perils of a world gone technological.  Warnings to parents.  Statistics on relationships changing and disintegrating.  Our own unease when we see the kids at the bus stop, each separately absorbed in his/her own hand-held device, no one talking or laughing with another.  No one apparently noticing another. Or the doctor’s office, like some futuristic scene, where people arrive, sit down, and take out a device rather than say “hello” to the person next to them.  It’s unsettling to me, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m getting old.    

Recently, my family gave me an iPod.  I hadn’t asked for one.  I wasn’t sure I’d know what to do with it.  But when our daughter was re-hospitalized after the birth of her baby and I was the round-the-clock caregiver, I fiddled with the thing and made some wonderful discoveries!  It would take pictures (of this darling whom her mother couldn’t see). I could instantly send them to her mom (who although teary was glued to the image).  I could receive updates from her husband and post to Facebook and email the family with details.  I could simply “tap” Pandora and have my favorites play 24/7.  And, I could Face Time—my daughter was able to talk with her sweet baby, who cooed back at her.  Ah, the wonders of technology.   

I also discovered this same device had magnetic powers.  When I should have been working—or praying, (or sleeping!) I was happily tapping and seeing what was happening pretty much anywhere in the world.  Sometimes everywhere in the world.  It was exhausting—not just physically, after a 2 am bottle—but emotionally.  When have we ever been able to keep in touch with 100+ friends at a time?  To know all the latest tragedies or catastrophes in several countries at once?  To have 20-30 urgent prayer requests, some of a devastating nature, to add to the prayers we’re already endeavoring to pray daily?  Yes, exhausting. A burden I don’t think any of us were ever designed to bear. 

Perhaps you have caught one of the radio interviews with Dr. Sherry Turkle (Prof. of Social Studies and Science and Technology at MIT) who has been following this technology phenomena since we first were blessed with computers.  I recommend her book Alone Together,  which has so many insights I didn’t want the radio interview I caught to end. The interviewer  pointed out “Dr. Turkle is not a Luddite.  She embraces technology but researches and exposes the dangers that come to our relationships and, I believe, our own perception of ourselves.   

I recall the debates and discussions over the evils of TV/movies.  I remember in the early ’50s, my mother didn’t want a TV in our home but finally relented when she found her family was next door most evenings watching the neighbors’ new toy.  I also remember once we had a toy of our own, her having to schedule dinner around our favorite shows.  At least Mom and Dad had sense enough to turn it off for the meal (the setting that holds the most meaningful memories for me).  And so began for so many of us the process of using yet another invention for good or ill.  Nothing about the box is evil.  Just like our hearts.  Jesus says “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them.  Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” (Mark 7:15)  He also reminds us that “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” (Luke 12:34) 

After Turkle’s interview, my mind went in too many directions to cover in one short post.  So I’ll divide it up over the next few.  For now, we can safely benefit from this prayer of repentance when “we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts”.  Whether it be tweets, texts, voicemail, email, answering machines, snail mail, magazines, books/Kindles, TV, DVDs, work, people, our personal agenda, or any other distraction which keeps us from our heavenly father, we need to see clearly the place these have in our lives and how they affect our minds, hearts, and relationships.  Each morning when I open my eyes, a host of things fight for my attention.  I heard a famous preacher tell how he had to fight off the magazines calling his name as he moved toward his Bible.  Nothing wrong with the magazines.  But could they give him life?  Amidst the din, the One who watches over it all continues to call our name—the One who  loves us more than anyone on FB does, the source of wisdom for our circumstances and relationships, the One who forgives and heals us, the place of refuge from all the distractions that tempt us to settle for an ounce of gratification when we can have total contentment.  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  (Proverbs 4:23) 

I especially hope that you will leave your comments here for us all to benefit from.  Thanks for stopping by! J  Next time:  Fine-tuning our image…

Comments

  1. Thank you for your blog post Priscilla! This is definitely a subject that needs our personal attention and a good and discerning mulling over before these careless bad habits become the new normal!I look forward to your next post! <3 Tamara

  2. Margriet says:

    Reading writings that come from the heart are always a treat to read. That just flowed out of my key board, sorry. Thanks for your wonderful column. An excellent book I recently read about this subject is Flickering Pixels – How technology shapes our faith by Shane Hipps (lead pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church). It was so insightful to read how technology changes us and our societies. And how this is not per se a bad thing, like you describe in your column, but that it is important to have a good understanding so it doesn’t control us.

  3. Carol Robbins says:

    Excellent blog post! So true – we were NOT designed to bear the burden that technology has placed on us. Its too much, too fast. If only the technological “progress” would take a break! Its ramifications may be worse than TV. Some days I feel like I have ADD because of all the demands on my brain. I’ll look for Turkle’s book, and I am looking forward to your next post.