Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Tyranny of Modern Covenience

Last Sunday’s Daily Progress (8/5/07) had an interesting article by David Maurer about the Ward family who left their lives in New York City to live on a farm near Swoope, Virginia (Augusta County) trying to recreate life c. 1900 with no electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, etc.

The husband, Logan Ward, has written about the experience in a book, See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America.

In the article, the Wards describe what drove them to seek this experience:

"For a long time we loved New York, and we were thrilled to be there," said Ward, who has written for magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal and Popular Mechanics. "Having a child suddenly forced us to think about our choices as they would affect him.

"Also, our jobs kept us pretty stressed out. This was around 2000, and e-mail had really caught on. My inbox kept filling up and, when I tried not to answer it, that backfired.
"Heather and I both felt that the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier was making us feel enslaved."

Heather Ward was trying to make the world a better place by working at a justice-reform think tank. But travel kept her away from home a lot. Within a two-year period, she visited every continent, except Australia and Antarctica.

Pangs of guilt

Having to turn her firstborn over to the care of near strangers during the workday caused pangs of guilt and anxiety as well. She felt chained to her computer and cell phone and was troubled by her absolute reliance on technology.

"Not many people seem to question all this technology," Heather Ward said. "We all assume this is right, because it's what everyone does. And it's the only way to do your job.

"It's the only way to keep up, keep earning your income so you can keep your apartment and all the stuff that you like to have. So when you think about letting go of even one aspect of that modern life, the rest of the house of cards can fall.

"I think that's why we looked for such a radical change. We couldn't keep doing what we were doing and not have e-mail, the car, the commute or the television. The whole thing had to shift."
I read this part of the article as an introduction to my sermon Sunday evening on Leviticus 25, noting that even secular people (the spiritual convictions of the Wards is not mentioned in the article; I assume they are not believers) know deep down their need for Sabbath and for rest (expressed by the Wards in their personal revolt against technology).
In the Old Testament, there is the provision of a weekly Sabbath (one day in seven, see Lev 23:1-3); a Sabbath year (every seventh year, see Lev 25:1-7); and a year of Jubilee when debts are cleared, prisoners are freed, and a fresh start is given to all (every 50th year, see Lev 25:8-55).
In the New Testament, Christ declares the acceptable year of the Lord to be fulfilled in his person (Luke 4:16-21). He is our year of Jubilee, and the spirit of the Old Testament Sabbath continues in our marking his resurrection on the Lord’s Day.

What is the answer to the tyranny of modern convenience (unending email, cell phones, television programs, web-surfing, and text messages)? Running off to live a year without electricity and no email? Going Amish? How about starting with a day of rest in the Lord? A day of rest in Jesus, our Jubilee.


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