Sunday, February 19, 2006

Norman Cousins on our "Sprinting, Squinting, Shoving Age"

As I reflected on the negative effects of technology (and on some responses to my last posting), this quote from Norman Cousins came to mind... and thus to blog:

"Our own age is not likely to be distinguished in history for the large numbers of people who insist on finding the time to think. Plainly, this is not the Age of the Meditative Man. It is a sprinting, squinting, shoving age. Substitutes for repose are a billion dollar business. Almost daily, new antidotes for contemplation spring into being and leap out from store counters. Silence, already the world’s most critical shortage, is in danger of becoming a nasty word. Modern man may or may not be obsolete, but he is certainly wired for sound and he twitches as naturally as he breathes."


Dan Barnett said...

Hi, Greg,

The quote from Cousins got me thinking about thinking when one is thinking something else. Today I was grading papers online when a thought occurred to me, a way to solve a vexing problem in an unrelated area.

Curiously, the other day I had sat and thought directly about this problem with no results. It took some time for ideas to bubble up. The "answer" I found may not in the end work, but now my mind is at rest in that area. And it came about as I was working on the computer, quietly, patiently reading student work and thinking how I might respond. I wonder if the same insight would have come had I been listening to a podcast.

Jim Coons said...

I appreciate your comment, Dan. But here's something to consider...As I told you yesterday I'm diving into the world of podcasting and have subscribed to Mosaic Los Angeles' podcast. Today I was listening to Irwin McManus as I rode my bike downtown and wouldn't you know it? It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear about choices and taking risks. Amazing I tell you, simply amazing timing. Would this encouraging word have found me without the podcast? I don't know. But I know that it found me today via this really cool thing called my U2 special edition ipod. What strikes me most about this conversation is the larger truth that I want to affirm: God Speaks. Through podcasts? You betcha. Through blogs? Yep. In solitude? For centuries. The question is whether or not we will listen.

Dan Barnett said...

Hi, Jim,

I think you're right. Sometimes in silence we need to hear the "still, small voice" and at other times God speaks through podcasts and noisy family gatherings and pounding waves. As Hopkins put it, "the world is alive with the grandeur of God." But it is a broken world, too, and sometimes I can't stand the silence and I can't stand the noise. Sometimes the silence reminds me too much of emptiness. Sometimes the noise reminds me too much of all those things that would substitute for God. But those are good reminders, aren't they?