Monday, June 17, 2013

The Sound of Silence

Try this experiment. Un-tether from your smartphone, your tablet and all other electronic devices for a few hours so you can experience something called SILENCE. To "untether" means to pull out your earbuds, turn off your smartphone, your iPad, tablet or laptop. You might also try coupling that with a few hours of SOLITUDE. Be alone and be still.

It seems that just about everyone is "connected" today. Whether you're walking down the street, in the supermarket, at school, work or even the gym, everyone is looking down a their smartphone either sending or reading the latest text message. We are driven by this need to be connected 24/7, compelled to tweet our latest experience or thought. We  update Facebook about our latest escapade, or even something as mundane as what we ate for breakfast.

Thoreau said,
 "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." 

That desperation is played out everyday on Facebook, Twitter, and other websites. We are desperate to be connected; we're desperate for significance;  we want people to know that we matter. But we're also afraid of being known. Don't get too close...especially if you happen to be the Creator, the God of the Universe who started all this. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we're naked and God really sees our nakedness, but we are still hiding behind bushes, or text messages, or tweets, or our latest Facebook update.

Elizabeth Scalia writes in Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, In "those rare moments when we find ourselves alone and the gadgetry silent, we feel we are at a loss." She says that "silence can be terrifying, but only because it lays bare our loneliness , our self-recriminations, and our doubts. Possessing nothing that is equal to those depths, we sense the need to distract ourselves and the cycle begins to churn again."

Scalia called these our "strange new idols"--our iPhone, iPad, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I also think we are afraid of silence and desperately try to keep from experiencing it because it might allow us to hear the voice of our Creator. His voice is best heard when we aren't immersed in a cacophony of noise and mindless activity.

We need to allow ourselves to hear from the One who knows us intimately, even if we don't know ourselves. He knows what makes us tick. He is the only One who can give true value and meaning to our daily existence.We allow our smartphones and other electronic idols to stand between us and God. We nourish these idols and give them an elevated place in our daily existence. But at the end of the day, no matter how much we've fed them and no matter how many tweets we've sent out, we're still face to face with the emptiness of our souls.

We visit websites of those who think like we think, vote like we vote, believe what we believe and we live in our own little cultural ghetto. As Elizabeth Scalia says, "We begin to serve the idol of the idea, alone." Even our thinking becomes idolatry. We need to have a mindblowing experience, to have our thinking elevated to new heights and see people and this world through the eyes of God. To realize that those things that are impossible with man, are possible with God.

How can we escape from this delusion, this ghetto of our own making? By shutting off the iPhone and all other devices for a few hours and allowing yourself to BE. Not doing something, but just sitting in silence by yourself. It might be scary at first because it's so foreign, so strange. But you might actually hear another voice that will begin to feed your soul.

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