Fr. Kevin’s Column 7/4/21

Dear friends of God,

I remember when I was much younger, and I would sit too close to the television.   One day, a boyfriend of one of my sisters said, “Kev, if you sit that close to the TV, you are going to go blind.” I laughed it off. Well, I do need my glasses really badly now. I am blind as a bat without them. When I was growing up, television time was a real issue for many of us. At this point in our technological life, we need to pay attention to all of our “screen time.” With our “smart” phones, tablets, computers and televisions, we spend a lot of time watching something on a screen. Here is something instructive that I found online about our tv habits. Minimalist author Joshua Becker recently wrote the following on his website Becoming Minimalist:

“According to Nielsen, the average person watches 4 hours, 35 minutes of television each day. And the average American home now has more television sets than people. That threshold was crossed within the past two years. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people. In the average American home, a television set is turned on for more than a third of the day—8 hours, 14 minutes to be exact. We are literally sitting on the couch while life passes us by. Experiment with owning less televisions. As a result, you will watch less. And when you do, you will be more apt to do it together as a family.”

That is simply the amount of time that we spend in front of the television. Again, it doesn’t include our other “screen” time.   We spend so much time in front of our screens that our ability to pay attention is being killed. I have to continually remind myself of the wisdom that we pay attention to that which we love. Philosopher Simone Weil speaks of attention in terms of generosity. She wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” In the 1980s there was a book published that tells us something insightful in its title, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Without a doubt, this book was prophetic. We have amused ourselves to division and to death. We are murdering our capacity to pay attention to the others in our lives, especially the “others” in our world with whom we disagree. So much of our “screen” time is used by those who realize that hate sells as a way to market the diabolical division that we are experiencing in the present moment in our American culture. We need to open our hearts to each other with a generosity of compassion that connects us with each other through the heart of God.

We are failing to see with the eye of the heart. We are sitting way too close to our television, and we have been blinded.   We have become blind to God’s love for us and our call to love each other. It is time for us to pray for healing and reach out to Jesus, our Divine physician, who can bring us our sight again. As a people we need to admit our transgressions against our neighbors whom we are to love as our very selves. It is only through the love of God that we can see the world as God sees it in the unity of our one god and one human family. It is in loving that we can bring ourselves to live the Kingdom of God that we have been created to live in this life and the next. Let us not waste the time that we have been given. It is time to love our screens less and God and neighbor more.

Much love,

Fr. Kevin