Friday, February 13, 2009

Useless Distractions

Have you ever really considered how much there is you don't know? I know that sounds like a strange question, since I'm not really sure how many rational people sit around pondering all the things they know nothing about. If you did, you'd end up sitting there for a very long time.

What I find amazing though, in our digital age, is just how fast you can learn things about something that 5 minutes ago, you knew absolutely nothing about.

In school this week, the kids had a science lesson to become "instant experts" on a sea animal. They were to pick their animal and then after doing research, fill out a profile on the animal. The profile was to include a rather comprehension physical description, scientific name, and various habitat facts. So, after they each picked the animal that they wanted to profile, I ran a google search and within minutes they were each writing down bits of information on their animals. Since they're not permitted yet to use the internet, I did the google search for them and sort of walked them through what google does and how it lists all the pages on the internet that pertain to what you're searching for. While I did the first part of the "research" for them, they were in charge of reading what I did find and using it in the right way. Within just minutes, Samuel was pronouncing the scientific name of the Great White Shark and Rachel was quite surprised to learn just how many kinds of dolphins there are. She commented "this is so cool, I love this stuff!" She was referring to the instant access to so much information. She's going to be a research junkie like her mom, that much is obvious.

I found it rather interesting that this would come up on the same day I watched this video. If you haven't see this presentation that James White gave at the Sola conference, I highly recommend you watch it. In that presentation he commented on how much information we have available to us today (as Christians, and especially pertaining to Biblical languages, information on the Scriptures, church history, etc.), and how little we actually utilize it. If you stop and think about how much the average Christian (and this certainly includes myself as well) knows about the Christian faith and doctrine, it's sort of a dismal picture. Especially in light of how much information is available, and just sitting there un-accessed.

I guess most of us can chalk that up to being busy. Always busy, always distracted. Jobs, school, homework, families, housework, church activities, sports, tv, games, whatever. We've always got something going on that occupies our time, from the time we get up till the time we go to bed. I suppose it would be fair to say that some of that occupation is legitimate and an honorable thing to spending time on, while a good majority of it is truly useless in the long run, but nevertheless entertaining and enjoyable. I think of my own kids and realize if they knew half as much about the faith as they know about Banjo Kazooey, they'd be pretty Bible smart kids. I can say the same for myself as well, and use the characters in 24 as the example. I'm sure lots of folks can think of something in their own life that they know more about, than they know their Bibles, or Christian doctrine.

The irony of this is, is that it doesn't seem to matter how many times I hear a convicting message like this and make an effort to do something about it, something always seems to pop up to take the place of whatever it was I've eliminated from my daily distractions. Indeed it's an ongoing battle to balance the useless yet entertaining fluff (it's fine, in it's place) with the eternal treasures of the Christian faith.

One way I've found that really helps, is to limit my own tv watching. I know there are lots of really interesting things on the tv (and a lot of really useless and harmful junk), but I have been limiting myself for several years now on what and how much I will watch. During the regular prime time television season there are six shows that I normally watch. That may not sound like much to some people, but even when I figure out how much time that actually is sitting in front of the tv, it seems like too much. I like it when summer rolls around because then I hardly watch any tv at all.

Another useful help, as much as I really dislike it, is the fact that I'm on dial up internet. If I had a normal connection like a real person, I'm fairly convinced I'd be FAR more distracted than I even am now. So indeed there is a blessing to the whole idea of not being able to access all the electronic fun online, that most other folks can just click away to. I don't have a cell phone, a blackberry, a laptop to take with me wherever I go, or any of those other tech toys, but if I did I'm sure I'd be even more distracted than I already am.

Being in the word and knowing how to give an answer for the hope that you have, is a Christian discipline that takes work and takes intentional time invested into it. I've often heard folks say that if Christians knew as much about their own faith as Mulsims do, or Mormons do, then we'd be a force to be reckoned with. I'd like to think that statement isn't true, but I'm afraid it probably is.

I don't want it to be true of me or my kids, so it's a daily thing to make it not so.

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