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Issue 111 - Electronic Dependency - July 2014

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Electronic Sabbath


For a long time, I was vaguely aware of calls for an Electronic Sabbath. I thought it was a good idea - for other people: The driver who was texting, or the group at the restaurant paying more attention to their phones than to each other.

Then I saw the way I turned to other electronics when our TV wasn't working. Might be a good idea for me, too!

We've already missed the date for this year's National Day of Unplugging but there is no reason we cannot schedule our own time off from our mindlessly addictive electronic devices.

Rebecca J. Rosen offers one of the most thoughtful perspectives I have found on the value - and limitations - of taking an Electronic Sabbath.


Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake



101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

109-Not Nice

110-On Freedom  

Link to all past issues 


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There Is a Switch
      Years ago, an acquaintance was guest preacher where the host pastor is also a prolific author. They were putting on their robes in his study, and just as they were about to enter the chapel, the host said, "Oh, I forgot to turn off the computer." Carol joked, "John, I didn't know yours had a switch."

Well, it's been a tough couple of weeks at the Howden/Davis home. First, both desktop computers were infected by malware. Jan couldn't even get online; I could, but every webpage was littered with pop-up ads to the point that the computer froze.

After we got both computers working again, the TV stopped working. Wouldn't even turn on! Now, we do not watch a lot of TV - at least not since the Spurs won the NBA finals! So, it may come as no surprise to learn that we have only one television. Nor to learn that our television is 15 years old. (It is not a flat screen, but a fat screen!)flatscreen-computer-room.jpg

What was a surprise was just how distressing it was not to have television. Want to catch the evening weather forecast? Not there. Check out what's streaming on Netflix? Not there. With no spare TV, can you even troubleshoot to make sure the problem is the TV, not the cable box? Not easily.

This past month has revealed just how dependent I have become on electronic gadgets - computer, smart phone, TV with streaming video. When one device doesn't work, I turn instead to another. (If I can't watch TV, I'll just play card games on the computer, or Angry Birds on my phone.)

Why not simply turn them all off, and go for a walk? Or read a book? Or watch the birds and the butterflies in the back yard? Or talk with a friend?

Why not simply turn our gadgets off, at least part of the time? I checked, and found that mine do have off switches. I bet yours do, too.

                                                  -- Bill


Life Without TV

       I know. We stand alone in a crowd because we have only one TV in the house. Well, most weeks of the year it really wouldn't matter that our one TV went out except for Le Tour de France. The grand sport of cycling intrigues me: the precision of aerodynamic positioning, masterful athleticism, and most especially the spectacular scenes of the French countryside, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. For one, who in her bravado voice says, "I don't watch TV" I do miss not having a TV, especially when I know the cyclists are in Paris circling the Champs-�lys�es toward the Arc de Triomphe as I write.

       TV is a machine of ad hoc need in our house, I guess you could say. It's rarely on except for an occasional Evening News program when there is an event of importance or to watch a DVD movie of our choice for relaxation. Or, of course, a Spurs game. That's it. David Frost said it right: "Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home." Quite frankly, no thank you. As has been said many times, "You become whom you surround yourself with."

       Not having a TV in the house these weeks caused a tug, I admit. On the one hand I missed Le Tour de France, on the other hand, it was a treasured time of spousal interaction: hugs, reading books together, and stimulating conversations. We found ourselves surrounding each other with awareness, attention, and affection. Now I remembered why we did not have a TV (on purpose) when our children were young - we just enjoyed "being with" - being present to the moment and to each other. Priceless.

       Can anyone please tell me who won Le Tour de France? Please email me? Thanks.

                                                --by Jan 


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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
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