Well, it is that time of year again—resolution time! And even though polls show that less than half of us plan to make new year resolutions, I thought I’d share mine. Earlier this month, I received the latest copy of Collide Magazine in the mail. I just started subscribing to the magazine after signing up for a free issue; an issue where they had recommended a site by a Catholic web designer, and a Podcast of the Daily Readings. For a Christian magazine with a mainly Protestant/non-Denominational audience, I thought this was pretty rad. So as you could imagine, after receiving this month’s issue and noticing the words, “OUR FINAL ISSUE!” on its cover, I was pretty bummed. In the final issue there is a great article by Ben Simpson titled, Powering Down: Breaking from Media to Build Up Your Soul. In the article he speaks about how we, as Christians wanting to grow in our faith, should consider fasting—something that we Catholics have been practicing since the earliest times of Christiandom (Mark 2:20; Luke 2:37; Matt. 6:16-18; Acts 13:2-3; etc.) But, the fasting that Ben suggests is one not from food, but from media. Ben goes on to list several reasons why practicing a media fast would be good for the soul.
Why Practicing a Media Fast would be Good for the Soul:
- You’ll discover a renewed appreciation for your tools. Technology is absolutely amazing, and it tells of the creativity of human beings and the God in whose image we have been made.
- Our habits need constant evaluation, and a media fast creates space to assess our media usage habits.
- A media fast allows you to take stock of your humanity. Too much television, too many movies, too much checking Facebook and Twitter on your smartphone, you are filling your life with noise that can cause you to lose track of who you are and who God has created you to be.
- You’ll be able to exercise greater presence with those around you.
- Fasting from media actually improves your thinking and calms anxieties.
- Fasting from media will help you to sharpen your own perception of reality, to reflect more on your vocation, your relationship to Jesus, and the state of your soul.
Now, some of you are probably starting to hyperventilate at the very thought of a media fast. But, when we speak of a media fast, we are not talking about a complete and total shut-off of all media. When we fast during the season of Lent, we don’t stop eating completely; this would be very unhealthy. Perhaps you could fast from media for one day a week, on the weekends, or in the evenings. It is really up to you how you observe your media fast. Maybe, during the fast, you only want to limit the number of times you check your Facebook and/or Twitter. Or maybe you’d cut back on the number of hours you watch cable news. Whatever your media fast looks like, be sure not to replace one form of media with another. Use your extra free time in prayer, reflecting on Scripture, visiting your Grandparents (with your cell-phone turned off), volunteering at your Parish, etc. Ben concludes his article, “As Christians, we have access to a medium more powerful than anything humankind has ever produced or imagined. By the Holy Spirit, we are endowed with a spiritual power that brings healing to the nations, hope for the future, and encouragement for the weary.”
A few weeks ago, I caught an interview with Billy Graham, where he was asked, “If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?” He responded, “Yes! I would study more; I would pray more; and travel less.” The reason that he would have traveled less was because it took too much time from prayerful meditation and study of Scripture. It also took away quality time from his family. I barely travel, but the amount of time that I have spent online has often gotten in the way of my time with family, and, more importantly, my time with God.
So, for my New Year resolution, I have decided to spend more attentive and quality time with family and friends. This includes doing a little media fasting, spending more time in prayer, reading more, and spending more face-to-face time with those I have formed friendships with online and offline. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Happy New Year!
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31 Dec 2010 Catholic Tech Tips