If you follow my blog, you know that one of the things that concerns me is how much time my children stay on electronics. I’m also concerned by how much time I spend on electronics and how it seems like every time I get into the middle of something that needs my concentration, I decide it’s time to take a break for Facebook, Instagram or scrolling through my favorite blogs. My first impulse is to throw all the electronics out and to ban them from our house, but I know it my heart that this is an extreme and unreasonable reaction that I would regret for us all. So, I’m constantly looking for balance and for ways to stem the encroachment of technology into our lives. When I received the opportunity to review Tricia McCary Rhodes’s new book, The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age, I realized that this might be a help for me, and for everyone else in our household.
Rhodes has noticed the influx of the digital as well, and she has noticed most of all how that has affected her spiritual life. She finds that she’s more distracted, that she has trouble focusing in on the scriptures for deep contemplation, and prayer is perhaps the greatest struggle of all when you’re being constantly distracted by each ding of your smart phone. (And there are a lot of dings in our life. One of the pieces of research that Rhodes quotes says that smartphone users check their phones 100 times per day on average.) And I will be the first to admit that I feel jittery if I hear a ding and I don’t go to check it out. I’ve even taken the measures of taking Facebook and some similar apps off my phone that it’s not dinging and distracting me all day.
So, how do we combat that urge. Rhodes recommends slowing down, reading contemplatively, deep breathing, meditating on the scriptures, scripture memorization and many other things in her book. This is a great start and a good way to begin to combat the biblical illiteracy that is running rampant in our society. According to the research that Rhodes quotes, nine out of ten Americans own a Bible, but 64 percent of Millennials do not view the scriptures as sacred literature and 39 percent say that they will probably never read it. Those are scary statistics. Even worse is the statistic that among those who claim to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, only 19 percent read the Bible four or more times per week. I can bear out the fruit of that in my Sunday school class that I teach at church. One week recently, I found that my second and third graders, all of whom had been in church all their lives, did not know that Moses was the main character of the book of Exodus and could not tell me what Exodus was about. I knew they’d been taught more than once, but it was just one more fact for them to fit into their distracted lives.
This book really resonated with me. I’ve found myself going back to an older habit that I had abandoned a couple of years ago to writing down all the quotes in a book that resonated with me and reviewing/rereading those quotes on a regular basis. (I used to keep a notebook just for favorite quotes, and had abandoned it because of my busyness.) I also have read a little more meditatively and really felt like I’ve dug into both the scriptures and other books that I’ve read (whether in paper or on my kindle) a little more deeply. There’s a lot of other great advice here, and although I didn’t work through all the exercises and ideas at this time, I’m going to keep it on my bookshelf so that I can come back to it and add more ideas for scripture memorization, responsive reading and deep breathing in once I’ve built a couple of the things I’m working on now into habit. Rhodes also references much great research and several other books that look very helpful, and I would like to take some time to read some of those books as well.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.