In the previous post, we began to set the scene for Lent, reflecting on how in an historical blink of an eye ‘Wants’ had multiplied, and almost unregarded, so had needs. The pronouncement of the Wayside pulpit, ‘Wants are many, Real needs are few’ . . . whilst in a sense self evidently true, sounds less obvious when we consider our contemporary existence.
Just a couple of simple examples will suffice. Consider the internet. How often is it assumed that one has a connection to it, and email address, perhaps our banking is ‘done online’ as is the assumption here in New Zealand where I live. School curricula are set upon the understanding that pupils not only have internet access in the home, but a [necessarily expensive] device with which they can access it whilst at school. Someone who does not have these things is understood to be ‘deprived’.
Unusually, my family has no television – again, but perhaps less so since the internet multiplied our media choices, this is considered a deprivation. We get pitying looks from time to time 🙂 I am asked ‘did you see . . .’ quite often . . . and my college principal at seminary told us we should be watching soap operas otherwise we wouldn’t be able to connect to the everyday lives of our people . . . You Must keep up to date, you Must be connected . . . wants become needs and multiply over and over
As society becomes ever more technologically demanding, our existence is increasingly dependent upon our connections into the systems we have set up. In an age which shouts ‘Freedom’, ironically we have become ever more chained to a pseudo physical necessity . . . there is more and more and more that we ‘cannot do without’, (and that before we pay even the slightest attention to siren voices of a host without number, who would sell us their wares. We find ourselves unable to do without more and more, which inability leaves us open to yet more voices calling to us regarding that which we ‘cannot do without’
Thus Lent is reduced as I suggested, to no more that depriving ourselves of those things which would seem to our forebears like unimaginable luxuries, and of course telling the world via Facebook how we are suffering from our withdrawals . . . We construct ‘Freedom’ through greater and greater complexity, and are caught in a web of our own designing
In Starkest contrast, as Equatorial noonday Sun to darkest Arctic Night, the Wilderness, the place of nothing, of emptiness, above all of Simplicity and thus the arena of our truest apprehension of God and thus ourselves, seems not only terrifyingly strange, but repellent even . . . It is as if at some level we have constructed OUR world deliberately to hide from God. Buried ourselves, called for the mountains to fall upon us. As if, we had deliberately grown a maze in which we could hide, thinking like a child, if I can see no-one, I cannot be seen. As if God might get lost in it . . . indeed if we might ourselves get lost . . .