I’m wrapping up this series with some practical points of application for myself and my household. I’m not suggesting these as universal laws nor do I think what’s best for me is necessarily what’s best for you.
My goal, as stated all along, is not to rid my life of technology (which would be impossible and would only lead to hypocrisy) but to experience as much of the benefits of blessings of technology without absorbing he negative spiritual baggage that so often comes with technology.
Technology is great (sometimes) but no technology, no matter how great and life-improving it is, is worth damaging my soul over. In fact, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” That’s my primary concern: guarding my soul and creating a spiritual environment in which my soul thrives.
So here’s practical application point #1: Observe a Digital Sabbath.
In other words, create a regular space in the rhythm of your week when you make a conscious decision to disconnect from digital technology for an extended time (at least 24 hours).
For my family that means no screens from Saturday night to Sunday night (television, computer, smartphone, iPad, etc). I think that if you do this you’ll be amazed at how this practice creates an oasis of calm in the midst of your busy life.
It will also help provide increased clarity as to how deeply technology has penetrated your life. You might think to yourself, “No screens on Sunday? No problem!” But you might feel differently when you get the urge to check email or watch a show or surf the web on a Sunday afternoon. You might realize that you’re a little more addicted to being plugged in than you thought.
There’s no better way to see how deeply something has a grip on you than to go without it for a while. That’s just as true for tech-addicts as it is for heroin or caffein addicts.
But the beautiful thing that happens when a Digital Sabbath is observed is not so much the going without technology but the ways that the space gets filled with other things. I think you might find your soul expanding in ways you didn’t expect when you purposefully remove technology for a time each week. Sunday is a great day for fellowship, relaxing together as a family, reading a godly book, or just sitting under a tree and thinking. For some reason, life just feels different and moves at a different pace when digital technology is not an option. Try it.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s book Sabbath has been deeply formative for me on this issue. It reads more like poetry than prose. I don’t agree with many of Heschel’s basic theological convictions, but he’s helped me greatly with regard to my observation of the Sabbath. Here are a few quotes:
“Reality to us is thinghood, consisting of substances that occupy space; even God is conceived by most of us as a thing. The result of our thinginess is our blindness to all reality that fails to identify itself as a thing…Indeed, we know what to do with space but do not know what to do about time, except to make it subservient to space. Most of us seem to labor for things in space. As a result we suffer from a deeply rooted dread of time and stand aghast when compelled to look into its face.”
“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments…We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.”
“The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals…Some religions build great cathedrals or temples, but Judaism constructs the Sabbath as an architecture of time. Creating holiness in time requires a different sensibility than building a cathedral in space.”
Think on these things. Do you think your soul would benefit from taking a weekly digital Sabbath? If so, then what are waiting for?