Wednesday, May 11, 2005


A Desert Father was praying in his cell when some
monks called him out to ask him a question about the
nature of Melchizadek. The father said: "Woe to me,
for I have left off what I ought to be doing, and am
now discussing something that is none of my business."
And ran back to his cell.

That's a loose paraphrase.

Anyway, I was thinking about "need to know."

I think 200 years ago things were a bit easier. You
lived on a farm, you saw people outside your family
once a week at most. If you owned a book, it would be
the Bible.

Today it's unimaginable for us to think of living that
way (though hundreds of millions do in the 3rd and 4th

But that style of life was potentially very Desert

Think of the distractions that intrude daily via TV,
radio, and internet. Just a random sampling. After
each one, ask yourself "do I really need to know
anything about this topic? Why?"

1. North Korea
2. Michael Jackson
3. The "nuclear option" regarding Senate filibuster
4. "Closing in" on al Qaeda for the 14th time.
5. Illegal immigration

That's just the first five that came to mind, and I
could list 20 others. There are of course people
that need to know about each one of those topics, if
their job is involved some way (politician, military,

But for the rest of us ... what benefit is there?

Then we could go to church controversies, which might
be closer to home. Let's see:

1. Ordination of women
2. Liturgical reforms
3. Dialogue with Islam
4. Intra-Christian dialogue
5. scandals of heterodoxy

I think all these issues are in fact closer to home,
but again ... is it necessary for the layman to follow
the play-by-play?

For instance, is it necessary for Xofezura who lives
in the USA to know that one of the principle beefs
between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic
Church is over charges of "sheep stealing?" Of what
possible benefit is such a topic to me?

I wonder seriously if the desire to "stay informed" is
really the desire to avoid unpleasant or difficult
tasks, such as, for example, prayer (ugh). I could
not excuse myself for shirking prayer, if I was
whiling away the hours on a new computer game, but
'staying informed' -- oh, that is ever so important.

As an experiment, I will try to avoid any contact with
"news" and see how long I can hold out. Due to the
nature of my work, I do have to keep on up on
financial news, but I will avoid all the rest starting
from ... now!

p.s. My experiment will include both avoidance of
learning about "current affairs" and discussing them.


Blogger xofezura said...

After 1 hour and 4 minutes I went out of habit to the BBC news website. Man. Okay, I start again at 4:34.

4:35 PM  
Blogger xofezura said...

Failed again! First thing in the morning I respond to some provocative email and start researching issues I know nothing about! Arrgh. Reset the clock for 7:38 am PDT on Thursday.

7:38 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

Okay, resetting the clock at 10:31 AM PDT on Thursday after another pointless debate (about Catholicism in the Ukraine, of all things) with someone who is as ignorant as I am about the subject.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Oblate-Man said...

Can some of us start a betting pool on the next time you have to restart? We'll give you a 10% cut.

Seriously, I think the lesson is probably more to be found in the failures than in the successes. I haven't recently done what you're trying to do, but I can identify with how hard it is. I'm especially interested in any insights you get from it.

9:19 AM  
Blogger xofezura said...

I actually have to reset the clock to 4:00 PM PDT Thursday, because I got involved in a controversy that lasted that long. Even though I wasn't looking up garbage on the web, I had garbage on the brain.

The good news is that since 4:00 PM yesterday, I've been news/garbage free. It was easy today as I wasn't at the normal desk job. I should be able to carry it through the weekend without much difficulty, but the real test will be Monday.

If I ever get an insight or something that works, I will of course share ... obviously many things don't work for me but I will press on. As Winston Churchill defined success: "Success is the ability to move from disaster to disaster with no loss of enthusiasm."

4:47 PM  
Blogger xofezura said...

Update: I've been doing very well at avoid any "news of the real world." I resist the temptation to go to CNN, or BBC, or the Economist, etc.

With regard to theological controversies, I find that more difficult to avoid as some religious blogs mix insight together with controversy.

But on the whole the disengagement is going well ...

3:08 PM  
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12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! » »

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read »

5:26 PM  

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