Tuning out the world…….


I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while, but I kept putting it off……but two things happened this week that finally gave me the impetus to reflect on the effect that technology has on our interaction with the wider community.

1) While hanging out with milady on Sunday, I accidentally left my Ipod and headphones in the back of her car.

Since she works most of the week, and we only get to see each other on days-off, that meant I had three to spend three days without portable music, and no wi-fi connection at my fingertips. 😦

2) I finished reading Digital Disciple by Adam Thomas. In this short book, the author explores both the pros and cons of living in a world permeated by social networking, online gaming and Google searches that take mere fractions of a second.

He writes with a central question in mind: What does all this Tech (and its consequences) have for followers of Jesus Christ?

With these two events coinciding, I was forced to reflect on my own use of technology…..and more especially the power my Ipod gives me to ignore the world around me.

For those of you who don’t know…..I work part-time as a street pastor for one of the churches here in London. Basically, this job involves entering into pastoral relationships with people who find themselves homeless or (as is more often the case) those who are making a very limited income.

The government pensions that they are given are high enough that they can afford to live somewhere, but there is no guarantee that a) the living conditions they can afford are healthy for their well-being or that b) there is enough disposable income left to afford basic needs like food and clothing.

Normally, I go out for about 2-3 hours on any given day and scoot around the downtown area and the East End….listening to the lives and witness of these folks. If the situation calls for it, it is also my job to direct them towards services that they inquire about, or might be able to make use of.

What struck me over this past week….is that the Ipod allows me to dictate when I will listen and when I won’t. Having my ginormous headphones on signifies to most folks that my ability to listen is gone….or at the very least, occupied in another activity. It allows me to close my ears to the cry of the poor….and I openly wonder if that’s a good thing.

In the days of the Walkman and CD player, my ability to block out the world only lasted for as long as the AAA batteries kept running. After those two or three hours, I was forced to either go to the dollar store and get some more, or put the Walkman away and resume my “normal” life of interacting with people 1:1

Now….. with batteries and smart-phones that last the whole day, the option to engage with the world, or to drown it out becomes a conscious choice.

In the three days that I had without music, I found myself surrounded by snippets of conversation. Instead of my favourite tracks by DMB, my ears were filled with the loud drilling and hammering of the construction crews. Instead of contemplating the Gospel through a podcast, I found myself open to more encounters with those on the sidewalk.

I have no real end-point or conclusion to this post/reflection……but I thought it was important to throw it out there as both an observation for myself and–potentially–a chance for us collectively to think about: what distracts us from being disciples??? …..Leave a comment on this post with some of your thoughts. As always, I look forward to some discussion. +

Morning Prayer: March 31st

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Psalms: 42, 43
Old Testament: Jeremiah 10:11-24
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21

For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21)

I was sorely tempted to put up the icon of the resurrection this morning but I resisted the urge…..it is Lent after all ;)…..Another 25 days and then we can put up the really fun and beautiful art of new life. 🙂

In this morning’s reading from Romans we have an important analogy made by Paul and proclaimed loudly by the Early Church. Christ not only gained atonement for our sins…..but he has begun something new; a new creation has been born.

I suppose that’s why I am frequently frustrated by salvation as taught by the “evangelical” denominations.

In their quest to save and baptize everyone, I sometimes wonder if enough catechesis is going on….whether people are getting a true grasp in what happens at Baptism.

Entering into the Christian faith not only means adhering to doctrines, and sharing those ideas with others; it means being made new.

I think that if we were to get back to the basics of Baptism, we might be able to get away from the idea that the sacrament is only about citizenship in the Kingdom. Maybe, just maybe……we might be able to reclaim our identity as a people who are not only saved by abundant Grace, but transformed by it. +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Annunciation

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Psalms: 8, 84
Old Testament: Genesis 3:1-15
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21

The Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3:14-15)

As I think most of you know I grew up as a Roman Catholic…….and if you went through the Catholic school system (at least in Hamilton, Ontario) you have most likely seen the statue of Mary pictured above at some point in your life. 🙂

In case you can’t see it all that clearly, it is a serene image of Mary. Her arms are extended in a warm embrace while crushing a snake beneath her feet.

This is a clear allusion to the Genesis passage. Just as Christ is the new Adam who brings abundant Grace and pardon in place of Sin, Mary is the New Eve who resists the temptation to follow her own will…and instead crushes the devil forever. ❤

I will freely admit that I have no particular devotion to Mary but I am starting to appreciate her more as I continue to study systematic theology. 🙂

In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Annunciation is a dual purpose and (in some sense) a reciprocal event. In becoming Flesh, Christ sanctifies all human Flesh, and yet, in Mary freely accepting the pregnancy, she is the one who gives Christ the tabernacle of her womb…to be nurtured, sustained, and to grow….so that all people might be able to see the face of God. <3. Ave Maria, Alleluia!+

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