Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Silence is Golden (but no one will buy it)

Once again the Mad Priest leads me to places I wouldn't find on my own (which underlines the necessity of community mentioned in this post) and once again I jump to the end to see the really interesting stuff (the conclusion), which is this:

Space for waiting and silence

Especially on the Net, silence is all too rare, but making room for the More and dealing with one another with the care that mystery requires necessitates a practice of waiting silence. Our own idolatries and graspings do not come undone without silence, and our meeting one another as images in becoming necessitates a gentleness with one another that I am sad to say is all too rare in the Church. This is why I would suggest that contemplatives should be the ones who lead us at this time in listening processes, not clerics or theologians (unless they happen to be contemplatives), for it is our confessors and spiritual directors who have traditionally been those with the gift of discernment of spirits and of the fruits of the Spirit
There is a reason why silence is rare on the Internet: it is a soundless place. Not a silent one; a soundless one. Silence is the cessation of sound. Soundless is a place where sound cannot exist. Which seems like a needless distinction, especially as sound files of many descriptions can be made on the Internet. But it is still primarily a text-driven medium. Like radio, silence would be pointless; but in the case of the Internet, it wouldn't be silence, it would be a blank page. The very technology that makes the Internet possible, requires there be something there to see. So we don't come here for silence; we come here for mental noise.

There is another aspect to it, one that occurred to me first, but now comes second: Silence, as "Christopher" implies, is essential to contemplation. But we don't need technology to mediate contemplation. In fact, we need to be removed from technology. It is almost a cliche to observe that all technology is designed to destroy our ability to be quiet, to sit in contemplation and merely observe without aggressive stimuli. So the other reason there is even less and less room "for the More and dealing with one another with the care that mystery requires" is that, more and more, we let technology mediate our experience of the world, and technology demands we see more and more aggressive stimulation: new ideas, more news, new outrages, new opinions, the latest considerations of what every event means. We are not invited to consider our own lives and the mysteries of existence on the Web, because we don't need the Web to do that. It would be like television transmitting a black screen so we would stop sitting and staring, or the radio broadcasting silence so we would stop trying to fill our days with as much noise as it takes to distract us from the world our technology has made.

Not that we can stop the turning; but sometimes, maybe we just need to turn away. Sometimes. Sometimes we need to turn back, because only then do we find comforting little gems of insight like this (another ending to a piece on another totally different topic but, again, courtesty of the Mad Priest):

But I turn to ask again: what was the point of all this mess? Ghandi is reported to have said that God would not dare appear today except as bread. Maybe these days God would not dare appear except as loving kindness, by people for one another, for the answer to violence is actually pretty simple, but hard to come by these days. We do indeed need to celebrate it everytime it crops up.

Pass the courage.
Celebrate. But also seek silence.

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