Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Anxieties Involving Our Culture

I have been blessed recently in being able to read some incredible books that have had a profound impact on me - much of which I have spoken of previously on this blog. I broke out the Dietrich Bonhoeffer this past week, and today while reading "Life Together" I had another one of those profound moments. Interestingly enough, it had very little to do with the themes and messages Bonhoeffer was trying to get across, but more with his character being revealed. This guy really loves praying the psalms and reading scripture. There is this simple love and joy conveyed in each word he speaks about it, and I won't lie - I am envious of that simplicity.

And what, might you ask, does that have to do with my anxieties? Well, he talks about praying the psalms and reading scripture in morning (not my favourite time of day), emphasizing that, "For Christi
ans the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day's work. At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it." The new dawn bore significance because God had stayed the darkness (Remember, the darkness was frightening before we had streetlights), fulfilling his promise. Ah, what rich metaphor!

I'm not sure about you, but my morning usually consists of stumbling out of bed, grumpy because I'm having to get out of bed, and hoping my house mate Susan is gone to work so I can go downstairs in my boxers to check my email and watch SportsCentre on TSN. Before I have time to catch my breath for the day, I'm rushing a shower, grabbing a granola bar, answering emails from staff and students, and running late. This is progress.

Earlier today, I was reading an article in one of the school newspapers at U of T that was discussing the future of education in the next 30 years. There was talk of Sony's application for a patent involving sending information straight to one's brain, effectively eliminating the need to listen to a lecture. This is progress.

So here's the truth. When I look at how obsessed our culture, our humanity, seems to be with progess I feel a little sick, a little anxious, and my heart gets a little rattled (literally). It makes me want to be a Luddite, though I don't hate technology. It's not that technology is bad, but the places it takes us haunt me. And yes, I realize I am a bit of a hypocrite blogging about this on my MacBook.

I really want to have a simplistic relationship with this world, so that I can gather in and appreciate the grand gestures of a creator that sustains it (and us). It's difficult in an era of instant-messaging-satellite-television-web-surfing to keep it simple, or get back to the slower paced things in life. This is why I absolutely love using my typewriter and writing letters to people. There is this element of long-suffering and patient longing as you wait for the post office to send your letter to its recipient, and for a reply-letter to be sent. The same goes for the warm embrace between friends who have shared words in ink, and have waited for the moment when they can have fellowship together in person. There is joy unspeakable in that wait, that anticipation, that our age does not know. When I write a letter, whether by pen or typewritten, it is an expression of my love and care for the person I'm sending it to. I want them to know that they are worth every long moment invested into the creation of that letter; it has not been an email sent quickly with little thought, but the exact opposite. I guess, essentially, I'm wanting to imitate a creator that desires relationship with a humanity that often can't see him past the glow of the neon gods they're [we're] worshipping: Our progress.

I am really anxious about our culture not because technology is evil, but because it feels like we lose God, and each other, the more we let it run our lives, and buy into its false promises of progress. Sounds more like regression to me.


Steve said...

Dave! How are our reading habits so similar? John, Brothers Karamazov, From Brokenness to Community, and now Life Together?? I just finished it last week! When I visit in November we can talk about it! :P

meagan.doyle said...

I've a feeling we're at similar spots in Life many riches in even a brief portion of that book!

Andrew said...

this is why i dont use a cellular-phonic device

I would rather lead a simple life than a convenient one

Samuel said...

Dave, interesting thoughts. I have been thinking a lot about the role of technology and science and how it has revolutionized human communication and community recently. I think I will do a blog post on it soon and advertise it via Facebook. :P

Susan said...

haha, thank you for waiting for me to leave the house before you and your boxers come downstairs...

Daniel said...
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Anonymous said...

Dave I have to honestly say that I'm captivated by your writing. Your style draws your reader in and makes them feel included.

I find I sympathize with you on a number of notes, especially the early morning prayer and meditation. I struggle immensely with this necessity, for even Jesus did it.

Thanks for your thoughts.