“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12
In an increasingly fragmented, delusional, illusory, disorderly and promiscuous era, it is important for the Biblical Christian to resist the secular tide and behave in a manner consistent with the true faith. This means acting and thinking in a manner that is contrary to the secular age. (Rom. 12:1-2)
This is a primary reason why I write about and criticize dangerous ideas that are popularized throughout the worldly culture. It is my hope that in doing so the reader will see the dogma for what it is and avoid it altogether, in keeping with the advice dispensed by Paul to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:21-22):
“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
However, not only is it good to expose evil for what it is; it is an absolute necessity to reinforce principled living by acting in a manner consistent with Christian morality. In other words, refraining from doing evil is only part of the equation of Christianity – doing good is an absolute imperative as well. (Ephesians 2:10)
It is with this consideration in mind that I would like to begin posting articles on this site that dole out practical advice, meant to aid the Christian in sanctified living.
In keeping with this philosophy, the ensuing lines will be dedicated to offering guidance on how best to redeem one’s time and avoid the snares of the modern attention economy.
As the reader well knows, scores of self-interested people and organizations are competing for our time, or rather, our attention. Although the words can be used interchangeably (due to the fact that giving one’s attention to something means time spent on whatever one gives his attention to), please remember that the aptly named “attention merchants” would rather have us distracted from the fact that we are spending our time giving attention to whatever it is they wish for us to pay attention to. Think of television, social media, various cell phone applications and other sundry devices and mediums which can seize a great amount of our day.
If we are to be honest, we must admit that most of us tend to misspend our finite and irrecoverable time on things that are frivolous – the exact thing the “attention merchants” desire from the us for their own gain. This is enabled by the fact that countless, fruitless entertainments exist in the modern age. Furthermore, once they have our attention, the content they feed us is inherently immoral and manipulative, enticing us to think and act in perverse and illogical ways.
Hence, as a society we are not granting our mental aptitude to things that edify but to things that debase and destroy instead. The evidence for this is legion. For example, attention spans have become almost non-existent – unless the content is in video format and contains dazzling special effects, loud explosions and nudity.
Folks increasingly think that they can be informed citizens by reading short, detail-lacking, unsubstantiated posts on Facebook. This makes for “news” nowadays. Additionally, countless hours are spent before television, tablet and phone screens, consuming mind-numbing, morally questionable content interrupted by countless commercials designed to appeal to the public’s vanity and avarice.
The 24-hour news cycle hasn’t helped either. The networks (including Fox News) specialize in sensationalizing everything, oversimplifying important subject matters (via the three to five-minute debate “segments”) and even omitting crucial information due to the companies’ interests in keeping advertisers happy.
There’s a better, more efficient way to live and it involves changing our habits and attitudes.
- Turn off the TV.
For many this will be unwelcomed advice and will attempt to dismiss it without even trying to implement the strategy. The truth is, television programming (as well as its internet counterparts like YouTube) is an instrument that people use to induce a desensitized mental state, a narcotic of sorts that provides an escape from the real world. Is it any wonder why the general populace, engrossed as they are with their more than six-hour-a-day diversion, are as ignorant and inclined to behave as irrationally as the content on the screen dictates?
One can be more productive and dedicated to what is truly important if the screen is switched off and other mind stirring activities undertaken. For those worried about “missing out” on current events: it’s actually less time consuming to read about the goings on in the world through a reliable newspaper or independent blog than it is to sit for an extended period of time watching cable news with its endless commercial interruptions, redundant “expert” commentary and pointless coverage of inconsequential happenings, such as congresswoman Maxine Watters’ latest incoherent ramblings about President Trump.
- Learn to love book reading, begin keeping a journal and learn two new words a day.
Books, especially non-fictions, are a wonderful way to acquire knowledge and wisdom, something seldom obtained through the medium of television. Matter of factly, the reader will be surprised how much more can be learned by book reading and how much of that vital information is intentionally omitted from television broadcasts. Furthermore, reading aids in the development of mental discipline and focus. Is it any surprise the Good Lord chose the written word to communicate his divine message?
Maintaining a journal is a wonderful way to track personal progress, refine one’s vocabulary via writing and help with the memorization of things, such as important dates, facts and principles.
- Pick up a new hobby or sharpen one that you’ve let lapse.
A few ideas are in order: Woodworking, fishing, drawing, painting, cooking, handiwork, a new sporting activity, the development of musical ability, etc. – something that will stimulate the mind and make you a more self-reliant, industrious individual.
- Learn a new language.
In the past, being proficient in multiple languages was understood to be a sign of high education, elevated discipline and initiative. Learning a new language is another way to keep the mental faculties sharp, make communication skills more exacting and even opens lucrative employment opportunities for those who speak various dialects – not to mention the fact that not all of the best books are written in English.
- Learn to listen to music intently.
The way individuals interact with music nowadays, specifically the youth, is a personal annoyance. Music is meant to be listened to, not heard. It is a common and dreadful sight, the adolescent waking down the street, earphones plugged-in, using the banal noise that passes off for music in his ear to tune out the real world.
Instead of using music as a distant background noise for daily living, take time to do what our ancestors did and actively engage quality music. Sit down and calmly listen to an entire album making sure to capture the essence of the performance. Such a practice opens the ear to actual art, the message contained therein and acclimates the mind to a steady state of focus, free from dreary distractions. I highly recommend listening to compositions from Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Chet Baker.
Dear reader, go on and redeem the time!