Thursday, July 8, 2010

Technology, Distraction, and Pascal

Justin Taylor just posted a helpful reminder that there is indeed nothing new under the sun. The last few years have seen a flurry of articles proclaiming the myriad ways that Google Is Making Us Stupid. While there is probably some truth to that, as I have written myself, the ultimate source of those problems is not new, but age-old and an unchanging fixture of fallen human nature. We distract ourselves because we fear what we would see if we did not. From Taylor's post:

Pascal, to my mind, has written the most profound reflections on God, man, and “diversion.” I’d recommend getting Peter Kreeft’s edition, Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensees , where the relevant thoughts are all gathered in one section (pp. 167-187). Kreeft writes that when he teaches this material, his “students are always stunned and shamed to silence as Pascal shows them in these pensees their own lives in all their shallowness, cowardice and dishonesty.”

Here is one line from Pascal (from #136) that it worthy of a lot of meditation:

I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

Taylor also quotes Douglas Groothius at length, and the full post is well worth your time. It left me thinking: how often do I distract myself, and how often do I allow myself to sit in the quiet and ponder reality?

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