Unplugged



“National Day of Unplugging” — not using computers, cell phones, or any technology from sundown on Friday, March 19, to sundown on Saturday, March 20th – had begun. What was the purpose of this? Of “National Day of Unplugging.” Dan Rollman of Brooklyn came up with the Manifesto idea. The principle is “meant to be added to your life in a way that is positive for you. There is no wrong or right, and no penalty for not observing them properly.”

 There is no right or wrong? Where was the serious contemplation? About was going on. The news events of the week. WHO is it or WHAT is it that is draining your battery this week? Like those people in Fargo who did not want to leave their homes, this week? At the time of flooding. Not wanting to be saved. While everyone else was filling one million sandbags.

 There is no right or wrong? The news this week. Paul Volcker, who was a former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States and now chairman of President Obama’s economic-advisory panel, spoke about the sins of those Wall Street credit derivatives: “It’s hard to take tough restrictive measures before a crisis. And after the crisis it’s too late.”

 There is no right or wrong? Just winners and losers? It was tournament time in the United States. For votes on health care insurance. For basketball and hockey. I did not use the free tickets I was given to a game last night, tickets with a face value of $86. I was not invested with either a team or with a close following of the league this season. So I ate the 2 tickets. There was this building of a false sense of community, in sport. With all these venues. A new big league ball park was opening up here in two weeks. A place built not with charitable dollars but with tax dollars. There was this distorted sense of values. It was all about establishing personal kingdoms. And a distorted sense of self.


 There is no right or wrong? In Omaha, a city that had spent a sum closer to one billion dollars than $500 million for a city center with a sparkling auditorium, a new ballpark would be opening for the College World Series. Funded with tax dollars, the Triple A Omaha Royals did not want to play there. They wanted their own stadium. And now the division one hockey team across town was exploring building their own multi-purpose ice arena, because the Omaha convention center was too big to play in.

 In sport. In music. In venues. In awe of beauty. Of women. Or of the physical agility of men. The values that are associated with values in everyday American life. March Madness. The cost of tickets. An unsigned catcher. Parents now trying to pass along a tradition. With baseball. With the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. With compact disc collections. People looking for meaning in what they shared. Wanting to Leave It To Beaver. To the next generation. And on the surface, looking pretty artificial. With this love of nostalgia. unplugged2

 In a day and age when laws get passed to maximize human happiness. Politics does meet religion, in everyday life. The escalating ticket value, beyond imagination. The escalating cost of stadiums, publicly financed. Inflated values. Of athletes. Of homes. Of Americans. In the age of beauty. When the age of beauty replaced the age of truth. In the age of television. Normal Americans who think that a catcher, a batting champion, deserves more than $20 million per year to play in this neighborhood. It was a nice neighborhood. He lived two blocks away. A great kid. He could find places where it might cost more to live and play, without the sense of community. When the athlete had to leave Kansas in search of the wizards of Madison Avenue.

 I had a computer virus this month. As a result I was unplugged for a while. Involuntarily. Speaking of unplugged, Reboot is a growing network of more than 300 young Jewish technology entrepreneurs and writers who want to “reboot” the inherited culture, to make the traditions and rituals more meaningful in their own lives. Voluntarily. Dan Rollman said, “The last few years, I’ve had a growing feeling that my connection to technology was getting to be more like an addiction.” Never a particularly religious person, he took the idea of the Sabbath, which had always appealed to him, to Reboot. Thus, the Unplugged Sabbath.

 I was as likely to be to be saved from, immune to, the economic bloodshed in that next collapse on Wall Street, in any collapse, as my computer would be in a world with computer viruses. We would all be destroyed in the Bill Gates world. This world of computer programmed trades, on Wall Street. Our computers waging war now in the Middle East. I was as likely to be saved from, immune to, all the world’s problem as all those bishops — instructing the world on all the dogma about how to live properly — covering up the sins of sexual abuse. And then covering up the sex crimes of their own ordained people? Everywhere? Maybe because of a similar need for a smaller place to play, like the UNO Mavericks, the pope was going to be addressing the bishops’ crimes, his own crime, against their own people. His own distorted sense of self. And the cover up? And still investigating those American nuns.

 Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter to Catholics about clerical child sex abuse was forthcoming today, addressing at least the situation in Ireland, if not in Germany and all the world. This was the German who lived in a country that had never dealt amongst itself with the Nazi generation. I am not sure he had given a proper contemplation to, or even read, Crime and Punishment.

 Sin, and its aftermath. Crime and punishment. Making restitution. Doing good. And then thinking that the obligation somehow ceased, when you dedicated your life to someone or something. Leaders concerned about the inner spirit of others. Like being a minister or a priest as someone already serving, at practically no cost, this society. How do you punish them? When a priest had so little? When a slave had so little? When you took them out of Egypt?

 Passover. Those Egyptians, who had enslaved the Israelites. The system of slavery and what it did to the slave owners. And not wanting to look at the system that destroyed people. IF you were a slaveholder. The denial that it was evil, because I depended on the system. I had learned how to thrive in the system. Like the system which built stadiums. Or created health care taxes, to pay for health care. For everyone. The same health care. At the same cost. The same care for that catcher who would make $20 million. The same care for whoever it was or WHATEVER it was that was draining your battery this week. For everyone else filling one million sandbags. Or not. The smokers. Or the drug addicts. Not unlike those people in Fargo who wanted to be left alone in their homes, this week, despite the flood waters. Not wanting to be saved.

 In a sense it reflects dysfunction between God and all humans. The distance. In a world where those Egyptians, who had enslaved the Israelites. The enslaved Chosen People. And wanting to do something. About the evil in the world. About the evil systems which ensued. About the dysfunction that had come out of this creation that was so perfect at the beginning. Moses at the burning bush. The distance. Viewing the distance in the story. Was this God’s attempt at reconciliation? About the world? For what happened to the world of Noah? For what looked to be His indifference? To all the great people who suffered? And died, ever since. To the ones filling one million sandbags. And to all the innocent children.

 God and Moses at the burning bush. A burning bush still there in Egypt. The theophany. Moses decided something at the sight of the burning bush. “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.” He let his feet decide how close he was able to come…..to the burning bush. The trembling? The fear? In awe of something. And God said, “Do not draw near here. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place upon which you stand is holy soil.” God had heard the cries of “my people” in Egypt, And from, what the Hebrew Bible calls, within the thorn bush, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, for I know their pains. I have descended to rescue them from the hand[s] of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land, to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” And along the way, Moses discovered God’s attempt at reconciliation. About the past. For what happened to the world of Noah. For what looked to be His indifference. To all the innocent children. To all the great people who suffered. And died. And the affliction of the people in Egypt, which was the basis for Moses killing a man.

 It all started, this story of exodus, when Moses decided to come closer to God in that burning bush. In a sequel to the earlier story, after it had been the earth that was cursed in the Garden of Eden, it all started, this story of redemption, as Moses was curious. And now, the change in the story of banishment. After the punishment had been that humans would work by the sweat of their brow. It all started, this story of exodus, when Moses decided to come closer to God in that burning bush. When God saw what had happened, in a world of slavery, where Moses had already killed a man. Moses, wondering in such a world with all of its systemic evil, why the bush was not consumed. In a place where he might even have approached with a strong sense of shame, along with justification. Because in Hebrew, it is written: “And He said: ‘Do not draw near here. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place upon which you stand is holy soil.'” In a sense, this was the world when Moses first became unplugged. The world without any codified Mosaic law, when the Israelite men of Egypt were no longer circumcised, when the physical sign of acceptance of the covenant made with Abraham years before, was gone? And this was the “reproach of Egypt” as Moses was asked to remove his own Egyptian-given shoes, to come closer to God.

 In a sense, the entire story unfolded after Moses first unplugged his sandals. From a system where there seemed to be no right or no wrong. From the system.
Copyright © 2010.

LINK: http://nationaldayofunplugging.com/

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PHOTO COURTESY OF rogue3w VIA FLICKR

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Religion Blogs

Jonathan Spira
Basex
Information overload has decreased people’s ability to manage thoughts and ideas.

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