Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Theology of Presence?

Here's something I see a lot more of these days. Dads out with their toddlers, walking along, the child trying hard to keep up, while the Dad is immersed in his "smart" phone (the quotations indicate deep irony).

Hmmm. I don't know you, and maybe it's none of my business, but dude, put down your gadget and be with your kids!

Which brings us to Four Reasons We Need a Theology of Presence.
Distractions are increasing and we need to think through what presence looks like as a mode of life.

That's a good post to get us thinking about something that is, it seems to me, deeply important.

And see: Tim Challies' Bad Manners Masquerading as Media


Anonymous said...

i read both,
and they have got me thinking...

DebD said...

This was very interesting. I wonder how much of it is generational, because I totally agree, but then again I'm in my late 40's. Perhaps I agree because in my Christian tradition we don't use a lot of technological do-dads (at least not on Sunday). The two points I most agree with are "Technology depersonalizes" and "it distracts". About the only thing that rather grated on me was the title. Why is it that everything has to be a "Theology" of something. Does that make it more relevant or something? Not trying to be a curmudgeon.

(found you via Semicolon's blog a week or so ago)

Bob Spencer said...

Deb, I get what you're saying about the use of the word "theology," I think. I myself often sense the word gets overused by certain types, just as means to impress or something. I think I would say, though, that I can talk about "presence" between people with more precision if I understand that it can mirror the "presence" (or maybe "attentiveness" of God). So in this case maybe, as a part of our understanding of the importance of "presence" we need to see its foundations in the way presence reflects something very important about God. Another more vigorously Christian way to say that is, "Since Jesus is present in me, I need to be present with others, for when I am, Jesus is present with others through me." That's what I would consider the core of a "theology" of presence.

DebD said...

you said: Deb, I get what you're saying about the use of the word "theology," I think. I myself often sense the word gets overused by certain types, just as means to impress or something.

Yes, this is what I meant. It just feel a bit overused in the wrong places. Kind of like the word "Relevant" is often overused in church circles.

And, yes! I absolutely agree with what you are saying and preferred your use of the word "attentiveness" much more. Like I said, I don't disagree with the blog post. We need to put our technology down and have a face to face relationship with people that is uninterrupted. This is an important part of creating christian communities.

I volunteer with Hospice and one of my patients is pretty far down the road of dementia. Most of her talks are rather scattered and confused, but occasionally she does shine through. One time in the midst of her scattered babbling she said to me (quite clearly) "Slow down and pay attention". She immediately went back to the scattered talking. I wrote it down. I knew this was something important for me to hear in the middle of my "I'm in a hurry" life. Perhaps it was part of her inner frustration at being ignored and marginalized because her mind was so terribly failing her. I don't know why I'm sharing this other than that your words reminded me of that experience. I need to always remember it, not just for my hospice patients but for everyone.