Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice


Deacon Unplugged

So, as has become usual, I pop in, leave for a few days (or more), then pop back. To some extent it’s just being busy, or not having anything pressing to talk about.

But to a small extent these days, it’s also me unplugging a little from the Internet.

You see, I decided to give up something for Lent, which is a practice I haven’t done much these past 25 years or so. Our pastor talked a bit about giving stuff up for Lent around the beginning of the Lenten season, and brought up the point that lots of people have gotten into the trend of “doing something positive” instead for Lent. That is, picking up better habits or volunteering or getting involved in some special cause. It sounds nice on the surface (and it is nice, really), but as he pointed out, there is something to be said for giving something up. Not because of the “sacrifice” aspect necessarily but to discover things in our lives that perhaps are distractions from our spirituality, our families, our growth, etc.

Following a similar example of my wife, who vowed to cut down on her Internet time, I decided to give up Twitter and Facebook for Lent. Originally, I had intended only to cease regular and thorough checking of the social media. I would still check out posts and tweets from people whom I know in real life or regularly communicate with online.

Very quickly, though, I found that I wasn’t checking either site out at all for days at a time. I had taken my “sacrifice” even farther than I intended, and it was actually a nice feeling.

So nice that I thought, “Should I give up something harder to give up?”

But that isn’t the point, I realized. I had found something that was sucking at my time, and distracting me from other things, and tiring me out frankly. Trying to keep up with tweets in particular (I felt like I had to keep up with things, so I wouldn’t miss something interesting in the mass of tweets every day) was sometimes exhausting, and far from satisfying.

I’m not saying that I’m giving up Twitter and Facebook altogether; I think they have value and I plan to go back to them after Lent. But when I do, I plan to pare things down, particularly on Twitter, so that the only people I follow are people whom I know (virtually or in real life) or who truly add regular value to my life with their comments and sharing.

Giving up something for Lent has helped me find myself, find more time, and eliminate distractions. Even if that hasn’t translated into time solely and purely for spiritual reflection, it has renewed my spirit.

And so at almost 42 years of age, I’ve discovered something about Lent and larger purposes of “sacrifice.”


Modern Gods

moment-of-glory1So, I wasn’t planning on posting today. I mean, hey, it’s almost 11 p.m. Why bother, right? But I feel compelled. And I did have a thought leap to mind.

I’m reading a novel by Neil Gaiman called American Gods and it’s an interesting read. Not finished with it yet but I wanted to share a little something from the novel that made me think about some stuff. What I’ll be saying here really shouldn’t be any kind of spoiler, but if you’re concerned I might ruin anything for you and you’re planning to read the book, take this opportunity to move on and catch up with me again tomorrow.

Anyway, in this novel, we meet a great many gods. Yeah, the kind you read about in mythology stuff in high school or college, and a lot of others that your instructor probably didn’t teach you about. The concept is that these manifestations of ancient gods are here in the United States because people essentially brought them with them in their minds, and caused them to exist, and their faith and worship and sacrifices made them as real as the original gods were. But, as worshippers declined and the religions faded, some of these gods died off. Others maintained existences but as these kind of sorry-ass individuals. They have powers that we don’t, but their lives aren’t anything to covet, and they certainly don’t seem very godlike.

The core conflict of the novel is the fact that these old gods have been targetted by the new gods for destruction. Those new gods are who, you might wonder?

Television. Casinos. Freeways. Internet and so on. These gods have physical manifestations and they walk among us and influence things at times.

What struck me as particularly interesting is that while the old gods scrape for any faith or remembrance or any kind of sacrifice to keep them going, the new gods of America are flush with not just “worshippers” but also sacrifices.

Our time is sacrificed to the television. Our money to the casinos. Things like that.

And what it made me realize is that even though this novel is a work of fiction, there is an essential truth there. Think of the time and money and other valuable resources of our lives that we throw at things that don’t really matter.

How many of us, myself included, are willing to spend hours on the Internet, yet precious few minutes so much as volunteering for a non-profit organization or giving our children the time they want and need, or reading God’s word? How many of us purport to worship God and actually worship everything but Him?

I’m not suggesting we toss away our temporal lives and go into the wilderness like John the Baptist or leave our families to go on missionary treks the rest of our lives, but I do think we should all reassess how much time we are willing to give to the modern gods we have created and how much more we should be giving to the God who created us.

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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