Sunday, April 08, 2007

Back in Business

And we’re back.

I guess I should begin with Happy Easter. Christ is risen. It is true.

As it turns out, this little discipline of mine came with mixed results.

For the most part, it was a rewarding time that I was able to stick with. Initially, I allowed myself time on the internet for two reasons: e-mail and research. “Research” was loosely defined as anything involving sermon preparation, driving directions, and stuff I can’t find anywhere else. As such, I discovered a few things about my own dependence on the internet, as well as our culture’s dependence on it as a whole. After all, how much quicker is it to enter a subject on a search engine than to figure out the next most likely place you’d find certain information? In addition, how much more information might be available on the internet; how limited is my access otherwise?

A light-hearted example: I live in Ohio. My newspaper, thus, will not provide extensive coverage on Michigan sports unless it’s taking cheap shots (the usual Buckeye blather and, more recently, sour grapes about the Tigers) or some Ohio team happens to be playing them that day. Looking back, I could have made trips to the library to read USA Today or some other national source of news, but then I would have had to plan that into my day, make the trip there, plan how long I could stay and where to look for what I wanted…you see how the internet has helped produce a culture of faster, more convenient results, albeit perhaps also one of laziness and with less creativity.

I watched a lot more television during Lent. This became one of my prime sources for national news. I watched a lot of Sportscenter and Headline News, though I’m ashamed to admit that I would also turn it on out of boredom when there clearly was nothing on worth watching. That was the biggest drawback of this exercise, I think. On the more positive side, I did make much better use of our newspaper subscription, and caught up on back issues of magazines. And I only read one book: Borg and Crossan’s The Last Week, which is quite good. It is a more text-based (as opposed to “historical Jesus”-based) look at the Gospel accounts of Holy Week. It’d make an excellent group study. I journaled quite a bit to placate my desire to write. I never really added more devotional or prayer time, which I wish I had done as well.

I do have to be entirely honest about how it went. I took full advantage of the “Sundays don’t count” rule, which was actually pretty unfulfilling the first few weeks. I thought that I’d welcome the opportunity to waste time on the internet again, but I found that I really didn’t care that much. Other blogs I faithfully read were skimmed without much of a second thought. I didn’t miss it for the first month.

But that was the first month. On a more recent Sunday, I got sucked in to something that Greg at The Parish wrote, along with the reactions to it elsewhere, and basically I fell off the wagon. You may have noticed that the post below this one was slightly modified, from “internet” to “blogging.” I know. It’s pathetic. The silver lining is that now I know how true the phrase “internet addict” is for me. It’s the sort of silver lining that still makes me feel incredibly dirty and inadequate. That’s Lent for you.

Even with the stumbling finish, I’ve become more aware of how dependent I’ve become on the internet for information and entertainment. It’s fast and it’s easy. It also makes me lazy, turns five minutes of checking e-mail into an hour of doing nothing, makes me neglectful of relationships with real flesh-and-blood human beings, and makes me incredibly dependent on an impersonal world of 0s and 1s for fulfillment and meaning.

So with this sharper awareness, we’re back open for business around here. I truly need to give the above further thought and apply it to this place. In the meantime, I’ll get back to some semblance of a routine.

Of course, that’ll be after we witness the return of The Sopranos and Entourage tonight. Sweet.

Here’s hoping your Lent went well. And again, Happy Easter.