God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Reflection: Ever Present Help
By John Tillman
The “ever-present” help that most people are used to, is the technology platforms we have attached to our hands and wrists.
These platforms were designed for profit. That profitability hinges on addiction and ubiquity. To continue their financial growth curve, the most powerful corporations ever to exist on the planet must make their products increasingly addictive and ingrained in our day to day life. Technology, it seems, is a jealous god.
In an article for the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino wrote about the difficulties of putting down one’s phone, when it is filled with technologies that, from the start, were designed to keep us from doing so:
“Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, has called the platform a “social-validation feedback loop” built around “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” Tristan Harris, who worked as a “design ethicist” at Google, has said that smartphones are engineered to be addictive.
Technology promises freedom of movement and ease of work, but, more often than not technology chains our hands to a borderless, invasive, all-encompassing workday that never ends. Workers clock in, but they can’t clock out.
Technology promises emotional fulfillment and freedom of expression, but often we find ourselves chained to the emotional highs and lows of reactions, comments, and likes on social media. All of this is numbing to the connection and community that we truly need.
The technology that we have designed to help us connect has had disastrous, unexpected consequences. Our world is one of shattered relationships and loneliness despite more “connectedness” than ever.
We aren’t the first to think this. In a recent interview with Kris Boyd on Think, author, Jenny Odell, discussed how 400 years before the time of Christ, Epicurus started a garden school outside the city because he thought life in the Greek empire was becoming too hectic and people were disconnected from what was important.
The solution of cultivation, retreat, and pursuit of community is one we can apply toward our spiritual pursuits. Walking in a park is the key metaphor we use to refer to exploring God’s word, and cultivation is how we picture the growth of the seed of the gospel in our lives.
Technology is capable of aiding us in these things. May we use technology to tie God’s Word on our hands and integrate it into our lives. The Park Forum is dedicated to encouraging this kind of usage. For in connection to the gospel, we find freedom, fulfillment, and community that technology can’t deliver.
Prayer: The Request for Presence
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes. — Psalm 119.145
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Numbers 10 (Listen – 4:11)
Psalm 46-47 (Listen – 2:15)
Numbers 11 (Listen – 5:22) Psalm 48 (Listen – 1:28)
Numbers 12 (Listen – 2:12) Psalm 49 (Listen – 2:10)
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Read more about Where Our Hearts Are
Our devices can be tools to lead us to God’s heart, not away from it. This ministry’s mission believes in that. But there is danger.
Read more about A Restoring Sabbath
Think and pray about ways in which you can abstain from technology’s addictive elements, while still using its powerful tools to spur your spiritual growth.