Notes to Self
Some of the bigger blogs I subscribe to typically have something like a weekend round-up type post which serves as an aggregator of the miscellaneous articles, video clips, and other assorted cyber-scraps that the author(s) happen to have come across over the course of the past week. I don’t usually spend much time on these posts because there are just too many links and rabbit trails and I can’t be bothered. I have occasionally found the odd gem in these laundry lists of links, but I’m increasingly finding that I just don’t have the patience for the random nature of these posts.
Having said that…. I will nonetheless shamelessly pass along three excellent and completely unrelated articles that I have come across in the last few days. All three got me thinking, albeit about very different things. I enthusiastically commend them to you in the hopes that one or more might resonate with you as well.
1. Richard Beck’s “The Amish of Email” is an excellent reflection on how we relate (and are expected to relate) to our technology. I have had many similar sentiments over the last few years—especially as my daily work has come to involve increasing amounts of email communication. Beck, for one, has had enough:
[H]ere’s the problem. The world expects me to manage my email. I’m supposed to sit down every day, read my correspondence, and reply. And it’s this expectation that is killing me.
Here’s what I struggle with. If you send me an email the expectation is that I’ll look at this fairly quickly (within a few hours) and get back to you. But here’s the thing. What if I don’t look at my email but once a week? What if that’s the way I choose to use the technology?
…what if I choose to get back with non-urgent emails in 1-2 weeks? What if I want to use email in that manner? What if that pace seems more humane to me? My compliant is that I’m not allowed that choice.
What if, indeed. I like Beck’s more humane pace and approach to email. We use the tool, the tool does not use us.
2. Over at The Front Porch Republic, Jason Peters’s “The Orphans of Success” provided a somber reminder of some of the costs of living and working far from home in our hypermodern world. The article talks about how, in our increasingly transient, rootless, and individualistic culture, one of the things that suffers is family connections. There is something lost when families are as spread out as they often are these days:
One of the direst consequences of that great American Affliction known as hypermobility is that many parents—and I am one of them—must raise their children in the absence of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Familial ties are so attenuated, and familial influences so muted, that children scarcely know who they are, much less where they are.
… I do think it is a great loss that so many people—and they are usually considered very “successful”—raise their children in the absence of their extended families. They are raising the orphans of success. Many of us are raising orphans of success. I am raising orphans of success.
Is the author perhaps guilty of a bit of overstatement or unnecessary drama? Probably. But as a parent of youngish kids who have just returned from summer holidays full of swimming and lakes and motorbikes and trips to the zoo and the family farm and road hockey in the street and BBQs in the backyard, I would simply echo that there are losses with every gain.
3. Finally, High Calling Blogs has posted Gordon Atkinson’s typically thoughtful (and pastorally sensitive) “Gentle Suggestions for Doubting Christians.” This is really good stuff that I think every church should have somewhere on file. As one who, like Atkinson, has always been inclined toward skepticism and has often wondered how (or if) that worked in the church, I very much appreciated his “doubters catechism.” His post ends thus:
Every child of God follows his or her own path. Doubting children have long, winding paths that lead them into strange and wondrous places. Follow your path. Do not be in a hurry. Humbly think of others as greater than yourself. Tend whatever gardens are given to you. Mind the children and other pilgrims you meet on the way.
And finally this: if you are hungry for faith and reading this with hope, you’re going to be okay.
It was good to be reminded that I and others like me are going to be OK.