Prone to Wander

The God of Zeros and Ones

Here in the information age, we have found a new God.

He is always on.  He is always with us. He calls to us first thing in the morning, and he is the last thing we see before we sleep. He eliminates our boredom or discomfort throughout the day.  Every spare moment is given to him.  His stream is steady, constant and free. We worship willingly.

As sons and daughters of Adam we are effortlessly seduced – above all things we desire to know all, and to see all. But we are never satisfied. We are never filled. Our throats are parched, and we are always thirsty.

We are always empty, always on.

But our new god is not new – he is as old as the stars.  He has gone by many names, and his voice has told many lies.  But wisdom still cannot be found inside an apple. A deity still cannot be found inside a Golden Calf. And self-worth still cannot be found inside a social network.

Today, he promises wisdom through access to information.  But the more we worship, instead of finding truth, the narrower our minds and hearts become.

We are narrower in understanding, because we do not take the time to look into someone’s eyes to see their point of view. We are narrower in friendships, because we forget how to give and take gracefully in a real conversation. We are narrower in compassion, because it is too easy to scroll past someone who is hurting. We are narrower in scholarship, because we do not take the time to read a work in it’s entirety – we only pick and choose the attractive bits. We are narrower in our beliefs, because we are only served up content from people just like us. We are narrower in our judgement, because we want to absorb only a few data points before dismissively categorizing someone or something.  We are narrower in our ability to practice peace and patience, because we want to be instantly gratified.  We are narrower in our insights, because we don’t want to take a long winding journey with frustrating dead ends – the kind of journey that often teaches us more than the direct route ever would have.

It is true that the God of Information knows many things.  But he is far from wise. Instead of bringing us together, his connections are driving us apart. We have confused information with wisdom and togetherness with true human connection.

Wisdom seems to be more about the “way” we know versus the “what” we know. It can’t be plucked from a tree or found on our screens. It often deconstructs in order to construct. It wants to create applications that apply to our own lives first. It often holds up a mirror so that we can see ourselves more clearly, even when we don’t want to see what it is telling us about our own hearts.

Wisdom lingers within the dusty pages of a long book. It values true learning.  It hides in the obscure connections between things, and not in an obvious search engine link. Wisdom loves sitting alone and watching the way the wind blows. It experiences rather than sees – it internalizes, memorizes, recites, remembers. It does not quickly dismiss disagreement, but thoughtfully considers. Wisdom chews on things. It digests, it churns, it labors.

Wisdom knows that the connectedness of things comes to us through disconnection. It knows that creativity lies in unplanned dissociation and spontenaiety. It loves the quiet place between dreaming and awake. It is a mashup of what we have experienced, what we have learned, and what we have yet to learn.  It considers the nature of God and love and earth and science, and it knows that they are more connected than we can know. Wisdom knows that however much it thinks it knows, it is only a drop in the ocean compared to the glory of God and the unknown.  It respectfully and humbly submits to the immensity and complexity, and the fact that it may never know.

Wisdom walks a mile in someone else’s shoes quite literally. It lives in the long pauses and silences, and especially in the moments when there is nothing to say. It doesn’t need to broadcast to a social network. It can speak through eyes, looks, smiles, and touches. It can be found in the thunder, but also in the still small voice of God on the wind.

Wisdom grows through pain, failure, flaws, and mistakes. It thrives in the boring, the mundane, and the awkward. It redeems every moment. It takes risks, because it is not afraid of sadness. It knows that sadness is required for a full life.

Wisdom teaches us how to love. While the God of Information gives us the sorting tools to quickly categorize and judge the ways in which we are different, wisdom gives us the slow, patient insight and clarity to reconcile and redeem differences. It finds common ground. It sees beauty.

It is easy to fall prey to the god of zeros and ones. He is persistent, charming, addictive and comfortable.  He promises to ease the mind, and he promises to be safe. But he can give me nothing.  He knows nothing of the value of the warmth of flesh, the feeling that can pass through connected eyes, or the rustle of trees in a quiet moment.

I submit, then, to the God of wisdom, who lives in the long pregnant pauses in between things. He is knowledge, but he is more than knowledge.  He is not always easy to understand, and he not always comfortable, and like Aslan the lion, he is not always “safe.”  But finding him is like finding a cold spring bubbling up out of the desert, a renewable source of insight, clarity and life.

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