Apparently, it’s Lent, again. That time of year I look forward because, they tell me, it’s a time when Christians give up things (although, I heard a priest on the radio just the other day insist that it’s also about taking up “better” things… sounded suspiciously like spin to me, but what do I know?) The idea of giving up something because it is part of some sort of religious festival doesn’t really appeal to me, naturally, my being an atheist — but it can be rather entertaining watching from my unabstemious (if there is such a word) vantage point.
Especially when presented with the ridiculous prospect of Bishops in Rome calling on Christians to give up mobile telephones and texting!
Of course, I’m sure we’ve all at one time (!) been annoyed by people using their mobile phones at the most inappropriate times. But the very notion that a tool for communication should be “given up” for a Christian holiday, or for any other reason, for that matter, strikes me as quite simply absurd.
As a priest points out in the video clip, he can use a text message to give advice to his parishioners. He sees the value. It isn’t a replacement for other forms of social interaction, it’s merely another way of keeping in touch, communicating, sharing, laughing, crying, arguing, debating — and, yes, sharing crude jokes, of course. It isn’t something that needs to be given up by most of us. My mobile phone is with me almost constantly. Data flows back and forth in numerous forms — telephone calls, text messages, emails, Twitter messages and so on — and my life isn’t tainted by it but, rather, enriched.
It’s all too easy to condemn communication because it involves a relatively new and speedily developing technology, because “the kids” are obsessed by it. But talking, whatever form it takes, is about sharing — about giving and receiving, learning (sometimes) and, quite often, growing.
If you really want to give up something worthwhile for Lent, I have a suggestion… but I’ll keep it to myself, because you’ve probably already guessed what it is, anyway.