A consummate news hound and political commentator discovers something about God... and herself
Andrew Sullivan’s essay in New York magazine a few months back was about a different but similar experience, and boy did it resonate. As many different views as we have on issues, I’ve always felt a kinship with him because there has always been a beautiful transparency about him and his writing—something Rod Dreher exemplifies, too—during pioneering days of internet commentary and blogging. We were living different and yet similar lives in that way, a cyber experience of life before it went mainstream. So I appreciated his essay inasmuch as I was grateful he got time away for silence and unplugging, it resonated because of my own history of hyper-connectedness and news addiction, and made me even more eager to shut down.
He had a stirring few sentences, I thought, where he quoted the comedian Louis C.K. on the Conan O’Brien show explaining why he didn’t want his kids to have cellphones:
For if there is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen, then there is no morning of hopefulness either. As he said of the distracted modern world we now live in: “You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel … kinda satisfied with your products. And then you die. So that’s why I don’t want to get a phone for my kids.”
Habits are habitual and all, so yes, it’s human to fall back. But free will is also more real than ever, and the liberation that is. There’s a new gratitude and an intolerance for artificial limits on the goodness and possibilities of creation. There’s a deeper and growing peace about Who is in charge and why trusting Him is just about the most powerful thing you can do. People today feel such bondage. It’s false. We Christians have to help everyone see by living in the truth of how God made us, in His image and likeness. That may be a line you memorized before First Communion or Confirmation, but how many of us make it our reality—the reason we get up in the morning and the air we breathe? During the Spiritual Exercises, you see how that looks in the every day in a more unmistakable way.
The Spiritual Exercises are obviously a particularly intense way to discover this but any time given to God will deepen an appreciation that unquiet is where the Devil thrives. Resting in Him is the only way for something different.
But that “yes” I mentioned before, it’s not a one-time deal. It has to be renewed.