I'm doing a series of posts on some of the perils of modern life in the third millennium. While there is "nothing new under the sun," 21st century Westerners live a modern life that no previous generation could have imagined. In fact, some advancements may have seemed impossible only a decade ago.
A quick disclaimer: I am not anti-technology. I am not anti-progress. I am not anti-media. I am not Amish . . . although there was that one time when AT&T came to my door to sell U-Verse. They asked, "Who is your current cable provider?" I responded, "We don't have cable. We're Amish." He left.
As a pastor and amateur sociologist, I see our society inundated with a plethora of information, but void of meaning. To get a sense of the immense mountain of information you consume, consider:
This audio piece reflects a societal fostering of of endless and empty noise. There are so many noises, images, articles, videos, gossip, billboards, commercials, etc. that you begin to overload.
As we continue to catapult with 4G speed into a future of unlimited information, we will have to come to terms with meaning - thoughtful, careful, intelligent meaning. If all we have is a deluge of information with no meaning, we will be left with a society caught in a cycle of what Eugene Peterson describes as "hurry, worry, and flurry." The consequences of "information with no meaning" are serious. Stephen Ilardi, professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas observes, "The more 'modern' a society's way of life, the higher its rate of depression. It may seem baffling, but the explanation is simple: the human body was never designed for the modern postindustrial environment."
As a people who live in this "modern, postindustrial environment," how shall we live? Can we be "in," but not "of"? Can we build acceptable filters for the information we consume? Can we create times and places in which we stop consuming and start processing information? How might this inform the church's life together? Worship? Community? Preaching? OK . . . I'm fading. Too much time in front of a screen today. Time to unplug . . .
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