Sunday, October 08, 2006

Data Decrease, Relative Silence, and Thou

Much of the information we receive is to no effect. We take in far more than we can reflect on profitably upon or ever act upon. Yet we drink it in and gorge ourselves with it. People even call themselves “news junkies” without embarrassment.

I am not arguing for ignorance as virtue. We should be well-informed about what pertains to us. But there’s the rub. What does, in fact, pertain to us? The character of God and God’s ways with humans are perennially pertinent. Our communication (prayer) with God is ever relevant. And we must master the disciplines pertaining to our callings. Some of those callings—such as my own as a teacher and writer—demand knowledge of many things. But how many things need to be known?

But in light of this information glut, this data deluge, I have a suggestion. We are people in transit--moving, changing locations in our cars, buses, planes, and (sometimes I suppose still) trains. The next time you must go from point A to point B by a motorized conveyance, leave the radio, CD, iPod, or any other information dispenser off. Instead of filling that time and space with music (since I haven’t banned that yet) fill it rather with silence—or as silent as it can get on the highway or airway or train tack. During that relative silence reflect on a passage of Scripture and/or pray through something on your mind. Do you need more facts (or worse yet, factoids) all the time? Perhaps you do not. Think about it. You may need to turn down the volume, decrease the data flow, and settle into lifting your concerns to your Heavenly Father.



Jonathan Erdman said...


I was thinking about your post, and I honestly think that there are many of the younger set (Gen-Xers or younger) who would simply not know what to do with a data decrease and relative silence. Their lives are dominated by noise.

But then I thought about a Will & Grace episode I saw a few years back. Grace, an interior designer, built a design to display at an exhibit. The design was a "meditation room."

I was a bit taken aback. Why, exactly, would someone as materialistic and secular as Grace have an interest in meditation? Answer from the Curmudgeon: data decrease and relative silence. But what is missing here is the Thou.

Meditation is something of a fad these days. Ultimately it is only about self-actualization if the Thou is absent.

Small Group Guy said...

For the last year or so the radio in my truck has not been working. I commute about 30 minutes each way to work. Despite my wife offering to buy one for me for Christmas, and again at my birthday, I refused getting a car stereo. It has been a good decision.

The longest times I am in the car is while gearing up for the work day, and then winding down and into family man mode. Both times are great for silence and reflection on the hand of God. It also allows God to point out strengths, and of course weaknesses that came along during the day.

Ben Z said...

Peter Kreeft makes a similiar point in his book You Can Understand The Bible.

I have a related problem--that is having the patience to carefully read through books, read great lengths in books while keeping all the points clear in my mind, etc...

I have read How To Read a Book By Adler, but it's just so hard for me. said...

Great post Doug! I currently go jogging with my iPod blaring Dennis Prager podcasts. I need the distraction to work out... :) but maybe I'll try the silence.... -Mike

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I don't think Prager is a distraction, exactly; but consider some silence as well. I think Prager would approve.

Michael Thompson said...

Over the past few years I have come to appreciate your challenge to take 'media fasts' and have challenged others to do so as well. Through my work in churches this has often come to align well with holy week activities as a way of focus on the cross and Christ.