Wednesday, 21 September 2011


The little 4 x 2 inch box most of us carry around all day shouldn’t be called a mobile phone. It should be called a mobile distraction machine.

For a start, its predominant use these days isn’t to make phone calls. A glance around my train carriage of a morning proves that. 90% of the passengers are hunched over their little distraction machines. Some of them are communicating (by email or text message, perhaps), some are socialising (updating their Facebook status, sending a Tweet), and others are playing Angry Birds or some other game-of-the moment. Nobody is making a phone call.

And they’re all using the machine to distract themselves from the boredom of the train journey. 

The modern world is already full of distractions. But we buy and feed these little boxes to provide even more.

So is there any wonder, when Simon, our Pastor, was speaking last Sunday about how he was distracted from reading the Bible by emails, Facebook messages and Rugby scores, that he blames his distraction machine?

It’s not the machine’s fault. It’s ours. The machine has an ‘off’ button. You can leave it behind, and (here’s the revelation) it probably won’t matter. Your Facebook friends can wait a few hours for the latest bit of essential news about your life, and if you don’t find out until tomorrow that your sister-in-law’s son’s cousin’s relationship status has changed to It’s Complicated, the world won’t end. We buy these machines to provide us with distractions, and then complain when we’re distracted.

The footie scores won’t change if you wait to see them on the television or read them in the paper. Angry Birds will be just as Angry if you don’t play with them today. And if your virtual crops wither a bit, you can always plant some more.

Now I’m just as guilty. My distraction machine is sitting next to me as I type this, and if its light flashes at me I usually can’t wait to see what it’s got to tell me. But what I do know is that I’m in charge of it, not the other way round – the people at the other end that *really* need to get hold of me for something more important than telling me who got most drunk at a party (along with photographic evidence) still can even when I switch it off.

So back to the Pastor. He reads the Bible on his distraction machine. So do I, as a matter of fact – I have the YouVersion app which gives access to way more translations than I will ever read, allows searching, highlighting, sharing, access to reading plans and probably a load more things that I’ve never discovered. The companion website adds side-by-side parallel versions, too, which comes in very handy for study purposes (I’m doing a theology degree by distance learning). It’s a great piece of technology, there’s no doubt.

But is it right to bundle God's word along with all the distractions that our little box brings us? Is the Bible a distraction, competing for our attention with email, Facebook, games and sports results?

When it’s personal devotional time, or family fellowship time, I put away the distraction machine and reach for my trusty leather-bound NIV. It doesn’t tempt me to look at emails, check Facebook or read sports results. It doesn’t need charging, never crashes, the screen doesn’t freeze, and it never needs updating.

It presents God’s word in a simple, timeless, clutter-free way that lets me concentrate on the message, not the medium. And it allows me to feel much closer to God than I ever could with my distraction machine in my hand.

Photo (C) theOOBE on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA-2.0 Some Rights Reserved

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1 comment:

  1. Great post hun. Shared, FB'd and G+'d - so much for me and MY distractions! :)