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How to Remember God in the Information Age?


What sort of knowledge does the modern information age impart? Does it in any way approach Wisdom? Or does it rather primarily impart "anti-wisdom?" From what we have said before, it certainly provides us with a wealth of information. Yet all these mega-bites of information amount to very little knowledge and even less, if any, wisdom. As a matter of fact, the over-abundance of information actually hinders knowledge. We cannot see the forest for the trees, as it were. Thus, at best the cumulative result of all the information we receive is a very superficial knowledge. Remember: what can superficial knowledge do to us? It has the potential to draw us away from God.
Even secular sociologists are coming to similar conclusions. In his book The Future Does Not Compute, Stephen Talbot points out the following:
It is hardly novel to comment on the personal scattering so readily induced by modern culture. Daily newspapers present my sweeping glance with a collage of the most dissonant images and stories imaginable, each allocated a few inches of space, a few moments of my time. The suffering in some African war immediately yields to an overjoyed lottery winner, who in turn gives way to a dispute in the city council, followed by survey results on American [physical] habits. The weather, comics, sports, book reviews scanning—all this is how I prepare to meet the day ahead. My attention, rather than engaging problems at hand in a deepening meditation, is casually, almost unnoticeably dispersed.
In a similar way, the television sound bite has become notorious; so, too, the dizzying succession of images in movie and music video. Magazines and billboards, the chatter of boom-boxes and the endless miles of retail aisle-ways heaped with a fiendishly beguiling array of merchandise all compete for a moment's subliminal notice from an otherwise absent subject, so that someone else's intentions can have their way with me. Everything is calculated to prevent my standing firmly within myself, choosing my own way in conscious self-possession. Left helpless to digest much of anything in particular, I have no choice but to go and move with the flow, allowing it to carry me wherever it will.
The critical law at work here is that whatever I take in without having fully digested it, whatever I receive in less than full consciousness does not therefore lose its ability to act upon me. It simply acts from beyond the margins of my awareness. Nothing is forgotten; it is only neglected. This is as true of Muzak as of the film image, as true of sound bites as of retail advertisements. To open myself inattentively to a chaotic world, superficially taking in "one thing after another," is to guarantee a haphazard behavior controlled by that world rather than by my own wide-awake choices.
The correlate of scattered (mental) "input," then is scattered "output." Car, telephone, computer, fax, television, VCR collaborate in this scattering by affording "freedom" of action that tends to enslave me. It becomes so easy to go somewhere else, whether via screen, phone lines, or gasoline-powered engine that the whirl of ceaseless goings substitutes for the hard work of inner attention to the fully dimensioned present. Encouraged to veer off wherever I wish with scarcely so much as a moment's forethought, I am never fully here or there, or anywhere.
But, someone will say, "Fr. Gregory, you are overlapping my different activities. I have a time for prayer, a time for contemplation, and there is a different time for my other pursuits: the newspaper, the computer, the television and so on."

But can we really compartmentalize our spiritual life to such a degree? Can we say our morning prayers and then forget about God, about spirituality, totally transform ourself into a completely secular being, like some Jekyll and Hyde, to become spiritually active once again only when it is time to say our evening prayers? Or conversely, can we possibly stop our scattered brain which has been subjected all day to Informational Sensory Overload from trying to make sense of it all, as we futilely attempt to concentrate on our evening prayers? I am sure that the Fathers here present will all confirm that the most common complaint heard in confession is the total inability to concentrate while praying. 
This is, of course, not at all surprising: after a day of hustle and bustle, when we stand in front of our icons in the evening, this may be the very first time we have stopped rushing about, since that morning. Physically we have stopped for the moment, but mentally the wheels keep spinning. We would all do much better if we were to follow what Apostle Paul entreats us to do: Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). This means that after the completion of our morning prayers, we continue being conscious the entire day of being in the presence of the Lord. 
A good way to practically accomplish this is to say the Jesus Prayer at every possible moment that our mind and lips are free: O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me a sinner, or, as Theophan the Recluse advises, to simply remember in our thoughts that God is always present with us. Even at the times when our mind is intently busy with the tasks of the day, if we constantly realize ourselves to be in God's presence, then it will be easier for us to attain virtue, harder for us to sin, and when the day is done and we are before our icons at home, we will not feel so alien, so far away from God. We, after all, would have been conversing with Him all day.

An excerpt from the following article:
 http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/infoage.aspx




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