“The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply, ‘Create silence’.”
― Søren Kierkegaard (d. 1855)
Imagine what it means to say that, in 1855, Kierkegaard thought the disease of the world festered in a culture of noise and distraction.
A student I occasionally met with at Florida State University would share with me his desire to escape from the frenetic pace of life he was caught up in, a pace that I thought consisted of doing much of nothing between real commitments. That pace, he felt, made him unable to find time for prayer. I counseled him to practice 20 minutes of silence daily for a week. The next week when we met, he summed his experience of silence this way: torture. ”It’s like I’m a stimulation addict,” he said.
Over a year or so he worked consistently at moving from a few minutes a day to an hour, and in that transition moved from the ability to remain peacefully still to being able to pray. Such perseverance is rare! And what he found in this remarkable commitment to overcome his fear of stillness is just how entangled he was in noise — his phone, his computer, his radio, his MP3 player, his TV. And what he had discovered, in my judgment, that made him “feel” so much better about himself and his lifestyle and his faith was this taste of inner freedom. He found that this freedom allowed him to more easily be served by the things in his life and not to serve them.
His signature biblical passage was, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
What entangles your freedom?