PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

 

The phone booth


(Detailed 09082007 retreat notes from Fr. P.'s lectures. The thoughts transcribed here are the retreat master's, not mine, unless otherwise indicated. -R.)


Our life has become a giant phone book. Because of cell phones and computers, we've become too accessible that we have become inaccessible, i.e., we no longer have time for dinner, so to speak, and we develop only shallow friendships and relationships.

With our cell phones constanly in our hands, we seem to say we want to look important, or we try to make ourselves look important (by giving the impression that we're important enough for someone to find us worth calling up).

However, our capacity for attention and propriety hasn't kept up with the advance in technology.

Thomas Friedman, in his book, The World is Flat, says, modern communication technology makes us so accessible to everybody but we've become accessible to no one. That's just one among many contradictions and paradoxes of the modern age. (You can search this one for a more comprehensive observation on the paradoxes of our time: "We have taller buildings, but we have shorter patience," and so on.)

Indeed, we have fewer close friends now. What we have is "continuous partial attention disorder." We are dumbed down. We've become the opposite of what a true contemplative is.

Multitaskingly busy, we've become impolite, inattentive to more than one person at the same time.

The world has become a phone booth. Efficient, yes, but proprietary? Common sense and good manners have not kept pace with the technological leap.

Therapy of a Public Life

A lot of us today have dysfunctions that seek to be treated by psychotherapy.

A proposal for alternative cure is the therapy of a public life.

God and prayer can help us, but today's obsessions appear to be mainly problems of overconcentration. We can connect this to the 'center-as-the-self worldview that we have.

We can solve our dysfunctions by getting outside of our self. Let's get involved in a lot of things. Enter more into public life.

Escapism is not the point.

Monks know this secret. With their daily monastic rhythm, being subjected to a communal activity, and not activities they take part in only when they want to, they attain the closeness with God that they pine for.

God never saves individuals; God always saves communities.


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