Inner Life vs Distraction

“Cell phones, Blackberries, e-mail, laptops allowing people to bring their work anywhere, news arriving in perfectly condensed and filtered snippets via the Internet and TV, never before has communication been so instantaneous and information distributed so quickly. Never before have people been so connected.”

“One would assume that this preponderance of advanced communication technology would promote a well-informed and close-knit society. While this is true to some extent and there are many benefits to be gained from these technologies, award-winning author and journalist Maggie Jackson surprisingly has found that compared to past generations, we are in fact less capable of quality analytical thinking, more ignorant about many issues, and more fragmented as a community. Never before have we been so disconnected.”  Source:Medical News Today

The subject caught my attention, so I guess I still am capable of attention.  However,  it caught my attention simply because it seems something is always vying for my attention.  There’s that nagging feeling, I’m forgetting something; worse still, that I’m forgetting Someone.

I can’t complain because things are rather simple around here. Kids are off being mature adults.  Only a husband and dog – neither demanding – have a real claim on my time.  I’m not even as plugged in as the rest of society seems to be.  I don’t walk around talking into space with a thing in my ear.  Why, I’ve even got the computer under control.  (Husband might seriously ???) So, I ask myself, “Why self?  What’s our problem?”

Enter Maggie Jackson, who wrote, DISTRACTED: THE EROSION OF ATTENTION AND THE COMING DARK AGE (Prometheus Books).  Medical News today writes:

Jackson’s definition of “attention” stems from studies in neuroscience that have identified a cognitive system comprised of three networks – awareness, focus, and executive attention (planning and decision making) – that work together to act as the “brain’s conductor, leading the orchestration of our minds.” The awareness and focus networks are systems responsible for gathering information about the environment, and the executive attention network is responsible for making decisions based on that information. Sustained attention is necessary for learning, deep thinking, emotional development, building relationships, and many other essential tasks. Attention is the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. Without it, it would be impossible to function in any meaningful way. In today’s world, this altered perspective has been greatly accelerated. Cell phones, e-mails, and numerous other devices compete for our attention. Because of this constant nagging, it becomes nearly impossible to utilize our capacity for sustained attention, and the implications are felt in business, the home, and society at large.

Jackson notes that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and once interrupted takes nearly half an hour to go back to the original task. Families and friends find it increasingly difficult to meet face-to-face and even more difficult to do so without interruption or willful multitasking. News segments bombard us with superficially simple pieces of information. We have essentially been ushered into a world of constant distraction in which reflective thinking and undivided attention (single-tasking) has become exceedingly rare.

Jackson further laments: “The erosion of attention is largely equivalent to the erosion of our society.”

Not to worry, forewarned is forearmed.  Awareness is half the battle. Bewareness is the other half.  The  world is a little ditsy in its quest for self-awareness and I think, goes off the deep end into navel-gazing and self-absorption.  Inner strength, on the other hand, stems from an inner joy.  That’s what I don’t want to lose.  The acronym JOY still works for me.  When you’re frazzled, check your priorities: Jesus, Others, Yourself.

Bully-pulpiteer – President Obama Again

Now we can see the influence of bully-pulpiteer extraordinaire, Rev. Wright, come to full bloom in his protege. Those twenty years weren’t wasted on President Obama. While allegedly abusing power with Mafia finesse, President Obama denies the coercion.  President Obama is charged with forcing compliance and threatening his (our) country men with the full weight of the White House Press Core if they do not kow tow.

Michelle Malkin reports

Over the weekend, news broke about the Obama administration’s reported threatsunion-friendly Chrysler bankruptcy plan. against an investment firm that opposed its

Tom Lauria represents a few of the non-TARP Chrysler creditors. He reported the threats on WJR radio host Frank Beckmann’s radio show in Detroit:

This isn’t the shiny new transparent politics we were promised by campaigning Obama.  If it is true, it’s the go-for-the-jugular politics of the Chicago machine; down and dirty as it can be.  But Malkin is right: “The only surprise is that anyone is surprised. The coercion cow has been out of the barn for a while now.”

Eyes and ears anyone? Abrogating contractual right appears to be coming easy to Obama.

Don’t Go There – I’ve Been There

Quoting Charlie Brown:

“This is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.” Charles Schultz

Holy Joy – Revisited

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”

Nehemiah 8:10

Headlines got you down? Propagandizing press infuriating you? I’ll leave off questions of finance, lest you cry. “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” …(long pause……….).  Was Charles Schultz, actually, onto something? Good grief? Could there be such a thing?

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Highly enigmatic, as I said in the previous post, and I really do believe the word of God  spoken through his prophet, Habakkuk. So, how do I get to faith from here?

For starters, I must recover my holy joy, not the jolly-jump-about-goin’-drinkin’- joy, but the joy that only the Lord can give. Here’s how it came to me today sometime after my posting. When I ride my bike for mental as well as physical health, I plug in my ear buds and head off with something sounding in my ears. Today, I had a choice, all of them were actually good. One, however, didn’t quite appeal because of my fightin’ mood, but I asked myself which of my choices had a likely hood of touching my soul. So, pugnaciousness aside,I chose Mediations from Carmel and rode off on my peace quest.

It worked! Or rather, God, the Holy Spirit, worked. The hard shell around my heart cracked when the word’s of St. Teresa of Avila struck a chord:

“One might understand the great good God does for a soul that willingly disposes itself for the practice of prayer, even though it is not as disposed as is necessary. If the soul perseveres in prayer, in the midst of the sins, temptations, and failures of a thousand kinds that the devil places in its path, in the end, I hold as certain, the Lord will draw it forth to the harbor of salvation”

And these words, too, hit home; addressed by St. Teresa to Son of the eternal Father,Jesus Christ our Lord,true King of the universe!

What did you leave behind in the world?

What could your inheritors receive from you?
What did  you possess, my God,
other than pain, sorrow and dishonour,
so that at the end
your only help lay
in the trunk of a tree
as you drank the bitter cup of death?
And so, my God,
if we truly seek to be your children by adoption
and not renounce your inheritance,
we must not flee from suffering.
The sign of your family
is your five wounds.

From the Office of Readings, “O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.”

Holy Joy Must Be Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10     “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Highly enigmatic, I say, but I believe it.  So, I do my best to recover the joy that only the Lord can give….. again and again.

In the closing prayer of today’s Divine Office, I read:

O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.
Fill your faithful people with a holy joy:
take those whom you have torn away from slavery to sin
and make them rejoice eternally.