Who needs a private diary?
Earlier today I asked if anybody kept a private (for your eyes only) journal or diary and, if so, what were the tools of choice. Only one person said yes. No conclusions can be reached by such a small sampling (only 557 followers on Twitter and 2800+ on Facebook), but I’d be surprised if social media hasn’t quenched the desire for privacy and fed the temptation to exhibitionism.
If that hunch is right, it may well indicate that nowadays the 21st Century clock sees less closet time with God than before. As if we were spending too much time already in private prayer and meditation of the Scriptures. “Quiet time” has already become a quaint phrase of the 20th Century.
The ancients measured their time alone with God by the hours; we, by minutes and seconds. Yours Truly pleads guilty perhaps to reinforcing the squeeze on divine communion with offerings like Quick Bible Truths. Its intent, however, is to accept the reality of our day and reach the masses within the confines of their attention spans. Or something like that.
The lack of time alone with God reminds me of the devotional reading by Bonhoeffer received this morning in the inbox, part of which affirms:
Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God’s voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has singled you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called…
Back when, newspapers, morning TV talk shows, weather forecasts, radio, and other media and assorted time robbers were also available to crowd out the personal conversation with God. But none so addictive as the Internet’s social media that outstrip alcohol and cigarettes.
So what do we need? More tools, devotional guides, specialized notebooks, online offerings? Or a complete, if temporary, shutdown of electronics to pick up a dead-tree print Bible, in order to find a live-Spirit word from the Lord? No one solution fits all, but solutions are desperately needed, one suspects.
The name of the temptation is distraction or, at least, a diabolic bait and switch, to separate us from intimacy with the Creator. The effect is shallowness, the damage is inability to relate, either to God or to fellowman, and the life lived in the public square or on the Facebook timeline has nothing to say to itself. So who needs a private diary?