Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unplugged Spirituality

It has been almost five weeks since I have watched television. It is not because I have decided to live a simpler lifestyle. I am not that holy or disciplined. It is because the house we are renting in New Hampshire has no television reception.

We have a radio, but we get only three static-free radio stations. The highlight of my week is listening to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday night. I actually look forward to it for days! The only news I hear is from Lake Wobegon.

I didn’t know what I was missing until I caught part of a news broadcast in a hospital lobby a couple of weeks ago. It was shortly before the September primary election, and the political commercials were horrendous. After being used to normal people treating other normal people normally, I was taken aback by the nasty things people were saying about other people.

Another thing I noticed was the fast pace of the electronic stream. There was no space to think about what was being said or shown. It seems designed to bypass the mental process of discernment and feed directly into the subconscious. I felt like I was being mentally ambushed by the television.

As I write this, I can hear only the rain dripping from the eaves, an occasional automobile passing by, and the oil furnace kicking on. There is space to think and talk, play games and read, feel and pray.

I have been having a lot of extended conversations this last month. I stop to talk to friends on the street, and a half hour goes by easily. We sit over a nice meal for two or three hours sharing stories, memories and opinions.

I don’t know how I found time for television before… or why. I understand now why my son and his wife decided against having a television. They don’t want themselves or their newborn son exposed to electronic pollution.

What I appreciate the most about being unplugged is the spirituality of silence. To hear God you have to have quiet space - more than just a few minutes a day. You have to breathe in silence for days and weeks.

When I am disconnected from the matrix for a while, my ears slowly begin to adjust to the “still, small voice” of God. It is not that I am hearing heavenly voices. The message is in what I am not hearing. In not hearing the voices of the world, you begin to understand the natural rhythms of God in nature and in people. 

God speaks without words or thoughts. His voice is deeper than intuition or conscience. God speaks beneath silence, before thoughts, deeper than self. It is the language of the Spirit, “speaking spiritual truths in spiritual words,” as the apostle says. To hear God’s voice clearly, it is best to keep the television unplugged.

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