Return to site

Church in the Age of Distraction

“If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.”

So writes Andrew Sullivan in his provocative New York Magazine piece entitled “I Used to Be a Human.” There he describes his growing awareness of how deeply transformative his online interconnectedness had become. He was addicted to the pleasant, omnipresent distractions of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and the like, mediated through a smartphone, and this addiction was taking away his humanity. He needed to make a change.

The entire article is worth reading (undistractedly). It pushes us in uncomfortable ways to consider the effect our digital habits have upon our lives. Especially intriguing to me were Sullivan’s words about the church. He recalled the Catholic church of his youth, how silence was a prominent part of the liturgy, inviting people out of busyness into something different, something sacred. This silence, he contends, is desperately needed today. And yet, tragically, church services often “have degenerated into emotional spasms, their spaces drowned with light and noise…when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.”