The Antisocial Distraction

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I want to take issue with this notion that technology and the presence of cell phones is counter-productive to human interaction.  To suggest that people not take their cell phones into restaurants or leave them at home completely misses the problem. It isn’t the technology that is the problem; it is the way people use it.

And this idea that technology as a distraction is anything new offends my intelligence.  Long before cell phones, the television was used as an electronic babysitter so that parents could avoid interaction with their children.  Commuters on subways and trains for the last 75 years have had newspapers, books, and radios to distract themselves to avoid having to interact with other people.  Whether someone was reading the morning newspaper or the back of a box of cereal at the breakfast table, the rest of the family were free to interrupt that activity to communicate with the understanding that it was permissable.  But what gauls me to no end is the notion that because of the prevalence of cell phones, people gathered together in a social situation only focus on their phones and not each other. What about the thousands of times that I’ve visited friends in their home, and often when I’ve been invited into their home for the purpose of visiting, and I am forced into competing with the program they have selected on their television set.  Do I only bring up subjects unrelated to the nonsense they’ve chosen to give their attention to while I am visiting during the commercials? Before any suggests that cell phones be put away or not used when interacting socially with others, I’d like to see the practice of shutting off the television when someone visits become the default response. Otherwise, it amounts to the same thing as blaming gun ownership for gun violence.  The propensity of human beings is engage in distraction over interaction is not the fault of the smartphone and can’t be blamed on social media.

I saw a video in which someone astutely explained how millenials have lost the ability to communicated and develop personal relationships because they prefer to engage with their cell phones, and his solution was to leave the phones out of meetings and meals at restaurants in order to open up opportunities for conversation and interaction.  I’m sorry, but that offends me. I believe that my conversation is interesting enough that I don’t need to have the competition from your email inbox or text messages eliminated. In the world of multi-tasking and engagement on several levels at the same time, we can do both and direct attention to each as needed according to the necessary depth and intensity demanded by the situation.  But if this troubled world that feels threatened by the smart phone is so worried about distracting my attention from the personal interactions I might have with those who are dining with me in a restaurant, why not shut off the TVs that are playing in the restaurant which are distracting me and competing with my ability to talk with those I’m sharing the table with? The video mentioned that when this fellow went out with his friends, one of them would bring a phone in case of an emergency. Choking hazard or car breakdown, I’m guessing, but he also said it would come in handy if they wanted to take a picture of their food.  Well, I don’t want someone else’s photo of my food. I have a camera in my phone, and I want to take pictures of the food and I want to take photos of the people there at the table. I want to give my phone to the waitress and get a group shot, and if I see something interesting or unusual in the restaurant or an unusual personalized license plate on a car in the parking lot, I’m taking a photo of that too. If anything, this expands my ability to interact. And when I have my phone, I have my entire photo album with me, so if someone asks about this person or that, I can show them a recent photo or a picture of their new house, new baby, or new car.  What am I supposed to do if I don’t have my cell phone? Describe the house or the baby? Promise to email a photo later? No, the smart phone is an asset to human interaction, not a deterrent. If someone is staring at their phone and appear to be ignoring you, show some chutzpah and say something interesting. It’s not that big a deal; it’s the same thing as competing with someone reading the back of the box of Frosted Flakes.

I remember those conversations at the dining table and those supposedly-wonderful social interactions at picnics, parties, and outings before the smartphone, and a huge amount of time was consumed discussing and sometimes arguing about innocuous things like who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, what happened to Eddie Haskell, what states in the US don’t have self-serve gas stations, and things like what are the hours, what is on the menu,  what is the closest location, and how much does it cost, when in a matter of seconds I can answer any and all of these questions plus virtually any other question with a simple Google search, and now I don’t even need to be sober enough to type in what I’m searching, I can use the voice search. I can tell you every film that Clint Eastwood or Kevin Bacon ever made, I can go from web search to image search and produce photos of anyone or anything. I remember in the days before cell phones, it was always as struggle to remember who did what songs and what were the words to which verse and who did a remake of what songs and what songs were written by who that someone else is remembered for singing.  You had to have a go-to person that knew all that to settle arguments, and if he or she wasn’t there, you had to call them later to get the answer. Now, with cell phones, you just search for it on YouTube and everyone at the table can hear it or even see it being performed. And when that song comes on in the restaurant background music, you can get title, performer, and sometimes lyrics using SoundHound or Shazam. Hard as it is to believe, in the old days, we’d actually ask the waitress or the bartender.

Don’t tell me that I’m losing out on human interaction because of my smartphone.  The world better realize that it isn’t the phone’s fault that some people can’t handle all of the technology they have or come up with a way to put it to good use, and we damn sure better get it figured out before we’re all wearing virtual reality goggles and have a robot accompanying us wherever we go.  For me, I am ready. Because of my phone, my interaction and communication is enhanced because I have the entire internet at my disposal. For those who are playing games and looking for diet tips on Facebook, you need to up your game and see the potential that you have at your fingertips thanks to technology and the smartphone.  I wish I had a dollar for everytime one of these technology critics will invariably say to me during a conversation which conforms to the old definition of human interaction, “Check it on your phone,” or “Look it up on Google.”

It’s time everyone checked it or looked it up themselves and bring a significant improvement to the conversation that all of us are having. If you aren’t having meaningful conversation, it isn’t because of the cell phone.  Think about it. You remember, thinking? It’s what we did before smartphone technology, and it is still readily available. Arguably, the smartphone makes it that much easier to see precisely what is going on around you, the very opposite to what its critics and detractors claim to be happening.

Here’s my challenge to the people that want cellphones turned off or left behind.  When someone comes into your home, turn off the television. Turn off all of the televisions.  Give them your WiFi password, encourage they use their phones, but turn off the televisions.
And when you go to a restaurant or you’re in a waiting room somewhere, ask them to turn off the televison.  We have cellphones and the entire internet; we don’t need your television.

That’s my Soapbox rant for today. Now I can go back to what I was doing

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Audacity of Pharisees

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Saul of Tarsus was among the anti-Christian zealots who played a part in the stoning of the overly-vocal advocate of “The Way,” Stephen, a Deacon in the Church, and by that I mean the Christianity that responds to the call of Jesus of Nazareth to “Come, follow me,” and it should be understood that first and foremost the Christian Church (Catholic, Protestant, LDS) is a hospital for sinners.

I recently heard a Catholic priest remark that he never neglects to point out (from the pulpit no less) to his parishioners who show disdain toward crying babies in the church that the babies are the only ones who speak from a position of “pure innocence.” Everyone else is a sinner, has an axe to grind, has an agenda, and their communication is influenced in varying degrees by their egocentric and non-Christian focus. Certainly, it can be argued that the infant is completely egocentric and is completely agenda-driven, but the baby does not do so deceptively or, dare I say it, sinfully.

The adult parishioners are all too frequently on their best behavior in church as a response to what is expected of them and to prove to themselves and their fellow parishioners that they are among the “chosen,” the sanctimonious self-righteous under the guise of being “Christian” and “Christ-like,” and they do so so that their self-righteousness will be reinforced as authentic and so that their membership in the “elite” can be justified in their acceptance by the other parishioners even though they too are just as insecure and just as judgmental.

Why judgmental? What Pharisee would be worth his salt if he weren’t judgmental? These bumper-sticker Christians cannot be judgmental though because these Bible-believing Christians reject Pharisaic attitudes. In fact, however, most do in word only and behave in a way that out-Pharisees any biblical Pharisee. And who can blame them? Nothing is as reassuring as the feeling of superiority one gets from being dismissive with others unlike yourself while bonding with those who hold shared views and opinions.

Case in point: among my co-workers who are in positions of pseudo-authority as bureaucrats employed by a self-indulgent civil service system, there is a man who identifies himself as a “supervisor,” and although I am not one of his identified underlings, he wears this identity to protect him from what he is quick to interpret as disrespect which translates to any and all direct honesty. The man is an active Christian in a large protestant church where self-aggrandizement is both condoned and encouraged, but thankfully, this church falls short of requiring their faithful selling raffle tickets and fund-raising candies at work. This man, this nominal Christian, a lapsed Catholic who found God in the Bible after being unable to find the Bible in Catholic Christianity despite it being read to his inattentive ears in each and every Mass, has little forgiveness for the faults of others and no tolerance for those who would hold him to such an exacting standard. No one better exemplifies the concept of “straining out the gnat but swallowing the camel” better than this misguided bureaucratic despot. He worries over employees who arrive at work five minutes late ignoring how they work through lunch or their level of productivity while turning a blind eye to those who refuse to allow job demands interfere with their web surfing.

Not wanting to condemn or judge yet not shy about calling a spade a spade, this narcissistic supervisor with a Pharisaical slant takes offense when I give him push-back as if I were being uncharitable when Jesus Christ himself we are told in Matthew’s gospel was “a truthful man . . .[who is] not concerned with anyone’s opinion,” because He did “not regard a person’s status.”

Saul of Tarsus saw the hypocrisy of Pharisee behavior and attitudes, but the self-righteous Christian have found a gratification in their superiority over others that must have inspired the Pharisees as well. But the audacity of their Christianity being thinly-veiled Pharisaic practive became known to me when I was approached by my Christian co-worker who’d heard of an illness I was struggling with, and asked if I would like him to pray for me? I was dumbfounded. Do you hold me in such low regard that I must ask for prayer when I am suffering? Is your need for validation and recognition as someone superior so great that you need for me to ask you to apply your supernatural connection with higher powers? When I didn’t answer, he added, “I can pray for you, if you want.” No, that’s okay. I’ll be praying for you.

Catholics Must Say “No” to Ideology

Swimming the Depths

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There is a disconcerting trend that I observe daily in social media. It is that many Catholics have mistaken their ideology for authentic Catholic faith. This is most typically combined with a misunderstanding of the ordering of politics in regard to the Faith. Many place their political leanings or personal preferences before the Church. This is greatly anti-Catholic, undermines our ability to communicate effectively, and hampers our ability to evangelize the world.

What is the Church? The Church is the visible sign to the world of the reality of the Blessed Trinity. It is Christ’s body made present through the ordained priesthood and sharing of the worshipping community most realized in the Eucharistic presence. In that sign to the world the internal reality of the life-giving Holy Spirit is at work. When we publicly rebuke Satan and enter into Baptism we are not joining an institution. We are joining a

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Solfeggio Frequencies, Gregorian Chants & the Most Inspired Hymn Ever Written

Be Kind. We're all in this together.

So that your servants may, with loosened voices, resound the wonders of your deeds, clean the guilt from our stained lips, O Saint John. — from Hymn to St. John The Baptist

013-chants-of-the-priestThere’s something happening now, during this unprecedented time in history. The currents of energy sweeping this planet are unearthing Solfeggio frequencies — sound frequencies used in Gregorian chants, one of which was the great hymn of St. John the Baptist.  The special tones of Solfeggio were used to unite man with his maker. They did this by undoing all the conditions and conditioning that cause separation from source, be it physical, mental or spiritual. The Solfeggio frequencies were so effective that they undermined the power of the Vatican, so they were conveniently “lost” and went into oblivion for a very long time.

Many feel humanity is now ready to handle these sacred tones, as we are in the midst…

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A Gentle Exercise before Sleep – Harold Klemp – The Spiritual Exercises of ECK

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A Gentle Exercise before Sleep

Harold Klemp eckankar.orgHarold Klemp eckankar.org

Try doing this spiritual exercise each evening before you go to sleep. Close your eyes, and sing HU or your secret word for five minutes.

Then just before you go to sleep, say to the Mahanta, “Please take me to the place where I can learn whatever is important for my spiritual unfoldment. Take me to a Temple of Golden Wisdom.”

Or say, “Let me see what it’s like to Soul Travel; you have my permission.”

If you can establish the Golden Heart, which is actually the viewpoint of Soul, you’ll find it easier to have inner experiences and let go of the fear. If you have fear in Soul Travel, you have fear in other things, and it’s holding you back in your life.

—Sri Harold Klemp
The Spiritual Exercises of ECK

The Spiritual Exercises of ECK

By Harold Klemp

A…

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