Wheat Field

Advent Series: II. Boundaries With Technology


+ Retreat into Advent: Lamps in the Quiet + O heavenly king, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph forsook their homes on the road to Bethlehem. Teach us to forsake the vanity of this world and retreat to the quiet of the soul. O sweet savior, the shepherds waited in the stillness of the pastures where they listened to angelic chant. Allow us to enter blessed stillness, that we may tune our hearts to thy transforming grace. O blessed Lord, the magi lay gold, frankincense, and myrrh at your feet. I pledge to thee the gold of my heart’s love, the incense of my prayers, the myrrh of my willingness to bear my cross. Boundaries with Technology - Part 1: The Problem 1. Facing Reality • I. God’s Intentions: Blessings of Technology • II. The Crisis: Distraction, Forgetfulness, Paralysis • III. The Solution: Goals and Boundaries for Enjoying the Present 2. God’s Intentions: The Blessings of Technology

• Cosmic Priest - "The unique position of man in the universe is that he alone is to bless God for the food and the life he receives from Him. He alone is to respond to God's blessing with his blessing.”~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann - "The world was created as the 'matter', the material of one all-embracing Eucharist, and man was created as the priest of his cosmic sacrament.' ~ Fr. Alexander Schmemann • Saints and Technology

- St. Athanasios the Athonite (920-1003 A.D.): Mechanical kneading device pulled by bullocks - St. Luke of Crimea (1877-1961): physician and surgeon 3. The Crisis: Distraction, Forgetfulness, Paralysis

A. Era of Distraction

• “Having promised us a technological utopia, our ubiquitous and intrusive cyberculture has instead precipitated a spiritual crisis … Living in a culture of organized distractions, our thoughts are isolated and disconnected, preventing us from seeing and experiencing the wholeness of life.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas B. Social Crisis to Distraction

• Widespread accidents by distracted drivers, surgeons and medical technicians (“Driven to Distraction”, New York Times, 2009).

• “Distractions created by social media in the work place cost the American economy $650 billion per year, with social media interruptions occurring every ten minutes, and with workers spending 41% of their time on Facebook. In the US alone, over 12 billion collective hours are spent browsing on social networks every day. The average college student spends 3 hours a day checking social sites, but only 2 hours a day studying.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas C. Psychological Crisis to Distraction

• Distractibility is to the mind what obesity is to the body • “Our changing technological environment generates a need for ever more stimulation. The content of the stimulation almost becomes irrelevant. Our distractibility seems to indicate that we are agnostic on the question of what is worth paying attention to—that is, what to value.” ~ Matthew Crawford (The World Beyond Your Head) D. Spiritual Crisis

• “Practice of Attentiveness” - “Attentiveness” (προσοχή) & “attending to thyself” (προσέχειν σεαυτῷ) - “Attend (Give heed) to thyself, and keep thy heart diligently” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 - “Attend to thyself, that there be no hidden, iniquitous word in your heart” ~ Deuteronomy 15:9 - “[In the writings of the Fathers] the practice of attending to the self…remained central to Christian anthropology and ethics…it was given a foundational role in Christian life, and was ultimately considered a necessary presupposition or pre-condition for salvation.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas • Distractedness is the primary result of the fall

- “The human mind, created in a state of rest, became agitated and distracted when it fell from grace…Forgetting God and grasping at the world, we become subject to unhealthy desires and addictive behaviors, driven by a continuous preoccupation with and pursuit of nothing… Habitually surrendering to our irrational drives and impulses, the mind becomes enslaved ~ Fr. Maximos (On the writings of St. Gregory of Sinai and St. Gregory Palamas) • Patristic Diagnosis: The scattering of the mind

- “To the extent that our inner life is in a state of discord and dispersed among many contrary things, we are unable to participate in the life of God. We desire opposing and contrary things, and we are torn apart by the relentless warfare between them, and this is called the ‘discord’ of the mind, a condition that divides and destroys the soul.” ~ St. Symeon the New Theologian - “Habitually surrendering to our irrational drives and impulses, the mind becomes enslaved to sensations (bodily or psychological); we splinter into isolated fragments.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas • The Modern World Makes it Worse

- “We are not the users of information technologies and social media, but rather are being used, manipulated, and exploited by them. In our culture of distractions, public and private spaces are saturated with technologies designed to arrest and appropriate our attention; our interior mental lives, like our bodies, are merely resources to be harvested by powerful economic interests.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas - “Rather than working to alleviate this constitutive weakness, we have built a culture of organized distractions, aiding and abetting the mind in its fallen condition…Lingering unregenerately in a realm of illusions; mesmerized by the images flitting about on our computer screens, we become “dull, predatory flies buzzing on the chamber window,” desperate to consume all the futility of the world.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas 4. The Solution: Goals and Boundaries

A. There is Hope

• “Throughout its long history, Christianity has often been subservient to the prevailing political and economic structures, forgetting that the Gospel is not derivative of human culture, but generative of a new way of life. We need to recover the power of the Gospel as a counter- cultural force, not with the aim of destabilizing society, but in order to create life-affirming communities. We need to rediscover, not simply that our faith and vocation to holiness set us apart from the world, but that they also engender a new, alternative world; not a virtual reality, but the reality of virtue.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas • “Taking heed of, and attending to, ourselves is the most effective method for reclaiming ownership of our self-determination from those who wish to take it from us. Transfigured by grace, attention will discover new objects of attention, because it will have its source in a new subject, no longer conformed to the form of the world, but transformed in the renewal of its mind (Rom 12:2), possessing and possessed by the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas B. Goals and Boundaries: GRACE • G} Get Concerned • R} Re-evaluate Lifestyle • A} Avoid Multitasking • C} Create Rituals • E} Enjoy God

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