Saturday, March 13, 2010

Electronic Cocaine

An article on titled, Blunt the Email Interruption Assault,, reminds me of a Saturday morning men’s Bible study in my church years ago. As we were discussing the challenge of mediating on Scripture and responding to God’s Word in obedience in a society with increasingly shortened attention spans, Kenny Brelsford said, “Pastor Bob, the way we live with all the noise and interruptions is like being on electronic cocaine.”

In the ten years since I heard Kenny say that I haven’t been able to improve on the image. Pascal said that the most difficult thing for a person to do is to be alone, for then he has to confront himself and God. I wonder what Pascal would think today with electronic cocaine coursing through our systems?

We are addicted to noise, to interruption, to outside stimuli. The above article, which is well worth reading, points out that one result of our addiction is that we (including executives) no longer know how to hold sustained face-to-face dialogue.

A few years ago a friend of mine at M.I.T. embarked on a project to analyze the deterioration in decision-making among leaders at top-notch universities. What he found was Kenny Brelsford’s electronic cocaine. His team was then charged with coaching leaders off the compulsion to read their emails 50 times a day and respond to emails immediately – they had to coach decision-makers through electronic detox – to use Kenny’s paradigm.

Psalm One tells us that blessed is the man who…delights in the law of the LORD and in His law mediates day and night. Psalm 123:2 says, Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God.

Short attention spans are incompatible with meditation on the Word of God, as they are incompatible with looking to the LORD our God. We cannot give God sustained attention if we are addicted to interruptions. We cannot give people humane attention if we are on electronic cocaine – we come to see people as just interruptions to be dispensed with so that we can move on to the next interruption – and of course we think nothing of interrupting others.

Psalm 131:2 says, ""Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”

Our souls are made to feed not from the world, but from Christ and His Word. The Word of God is to be our sustenance, our source of life. Our minds and hearts are to feed on Christ and His Word, we are to engage life in koinonia with the Trinity – but how can we do so if we replace the symphony of Trinitarian koinonia with the cacophony of the age?

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