So “Happy New Year.” I wish many of God’s blessings and grace upon you, your families and friends in the coming months of 2016.
Naturally, “new year’s resolutions” have a long-standing tradition in America (and I suspect in other cultures as well). Remember what you promised you were going to work on at this time last year?
Well, I decided to look waaaaaay back to January of 2015 and see what I wrote about. The topic (silence and finding quiet time in the midst of a technically noisy society) is well worth revisiting. It was based on posting by Joe Kraus who claims that “We’re creating a culture of distraction.” Philadelphia blogger Tom Shakley (seen right) also adds his comments on the need for silence to the conversation.
In October of 2015, Greg Reitman wrote an article entitled, “Why You Should Demolish Social Media on Sundays.” I don’t know if Greg is Catholic but he visits the idea of using Sunday as an opportunity to have a Sabbath from technology. Greg writes, “My goal for Sunday was to completely shut my
self off from digital devices, social media & the Internet.” Obviously this is a noble goal. It is also very difficult as outlined by Greg as he writes,
It’s 8am and I’ve completely failed. It didn’t help that my wife Erica & I launched our day with a live periscope tour of our new home to 30 of our nearest and dearest strangers, I have responded to 10 emails, 4 tweets, checked my Instagram and updated my website. Oh, I forgot Facebook, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Steller & Slack.
Rod Dreher is senior editor of The American Conservative. His columns are widely read and quoted by those on both the left and the right. It was he who apparently coined the phrase, “the Benedict Option.” A description can be found in WorldMagazine.com. A FAQ article on the Benedict Option can also be found in the American Conservative. Integrating the teaching of Christ found in John Chapter 17 (Being “in” the world but not “of” the world), with the Rule and spiritual tradition of St. Benedict, Dreher says that the “Benedict Option” integrates four principles:
- Prayer and Work
This can only be accomplished when we intentionally build silence into our day – every day! The Benedict Option might also have us occasionally-but-regularly take a “technology retreat” and shut off the E-Noise for longer periods of time. Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He was once a guest of Bill Moyers on “Moyers and Company” and spoke about this very subject which I featured in a previous posting here (I love it when the secular world thinks that they have “suddenly discovered” something the Catholic Church has known about for 2,000 years and other cultures for way longer than that). Click here if you want to hear the full interview. (His comments on his own “retreat, media fast and wisdom of the mountains” can be heard between 33:30 and 34:40. In addition. Marty Kaplan’s reflection on his “Media Fast” experience can be found here):
So if you’re lost for a New Year’s Resolution, perhaps a bit of silence might be for you – at least on “The Day of Rest.” As Greg Reitman says,
I want to commit to unplugging one day a week. It won’t solve everything but it will give me something. Something I like to call perspective. Perspective that will tell me that it’s all good and life isn’t just about what’s on my screen. So I’m taking it one day at a time. Next Sunday will be the day I start my digital detox.
Or maybe the Sunday after.