Quotes | Observations | Takeaways | & Encouragement

Volume 1, Issue 2, January 2020

The QUOTE is a brief synopsis of books I’ve read.
Read this. Then read the book. ~ Daniel Mallipudi

Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age
By Tony Reinke
Crossway | 2019 | 154 pages

QUOTES (quotes I loved when reading this book):

“Never in history have manufactured images formed the ecosystem of our lives. They do now.”

“We are creatures shaped by what grabs our attention – and what we give our attention to becomes our objective and subjective reality…We attend to what interests us. We become like what we watch.”

“…because we can live entirely inside the world of our images (consumed and projected), we lose our identity and our place in the community. We lose a sense of what it means to be inside the body God assigned and shaped for us.”

“Our culture is no longer banded together by shared beliefs; it’s drawn together by shared spectacles.”

“Feeding on sinful media will annul your holy affections. Yes. But pampering yourself with a glut of morally neutral media also pillages your affectional zeal. Each of us must learn to preserve higher pleasures by revolting against lesser indulgences.”

OBSERVATIONS (personal observations):

I read this book while on a retreat where I had limited access to wi-fi and cell service. It dawned on me how poetic that decision was – to read this book on competing spectacles in an environment where my access to technology was limited based on the retreat’s remote location. I’m glad that was the environment for this read because I was able to read much of it in one setting, without distraction or interruption. Upon finishing the book, I made the following entry into my journal: there is no substitute for time. I was struck with the ease I was able to read the book because I was devoting my attention to its completion. I was also struck with the volume of time I spend on (as the author describes it) ‘worthless things.’ Not inherently evil or sinful things, just worthless. I want to spend my time well. Benjamin Franklin said this regarding how we spend our time, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” I don’t want to spend my time on worthless endeavors.

The book highlighted one of the root causes for the prayerlessness in my life. Here’s a bonus quote for you from the book on the lack of prayer in the author’s life (and likely in our lives): “Prayerlessness may be the fault of my media. It is certainly the fault of my heart. In the little cracks of time in my day, with my limited attention, I am more apt to check or feed social media than I am to pray. Because of my negligence, God grows increasingly distant from my life.”

When I read those words from Tony Reinke, I realized the distance I had created between myself and God – as I chose the momentary indulgence of social media over a deepening of my relationship with God. Social media was designed (in part) for connection. In my search for connection, I sacrificed relationship. The author further posits that Scriptures encouragement for us to ‘pray without ceasing’ was to claim the transitions of our day. These rare moments of silence in our lives would be used to turn our attention to God rather than being pillaged and stolen by digital media.

TAKEAWAYS (things I’ll take away and implement in my life going forward):

As I began to do a self-inventory of my life and my relationship with social media, I recognized the notifications on my phone were proving to be a severe distraction in my life. The notifications were a distraction to a normal conversation, the viewing of a sporting event, my prayer life, etc. With this awareness, I removed most of the notifications from my phone except for texts and phone calls. With a small sample size, I have found that my phone is abnormally quiet – which is a good thing. I’ve read more books in the last thirty days than I had the previous three months. My prayer life is stronger, and I feel like my attention span has increased. There’s work to be done, to be sure, but I’m pleased, to say the least. I’m enjoying the quiet.

Every time I’ve opened an app on my phone, I’ve been asking myself, ‘do I need this app?’ Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’. They are functional apps where the access is available solely by my phone (as opposed to my laptop). Sometimes the answer is ‘no’. When I find myself not needing an app, I’ve been trying to ask whether I’m ok with the cost of this app. Not the financial cost of installing the app on my phone. But rather the other costs of allowing this app into my life. If I’m paying attention to it then it’s costing me attention that could be diverted somewhere else. As a result of this train of thought, I’ve deleted several apps. Like I said, my phone has been usually quiet recently. And that’s a good thing.

I started a prayer journal coinciding with the reading of this book. The ‘connection’ I had been searching for through digital media has been fulfilled through meaning and consistent dialogue with my Heavenly Father. Recently our church family went through a study of John chapter 17 and through that study I developed some markers for people to develop a prayer journal for themselves. Find out more here.

ENCOURAGEMNT (why I would encourage you to read this book):

I’d encourage you to read this book if you or someone in your family has a smart phone. There are some important distinctions in our life that are to be made if we are to live our lives in a matter consistent with being followers of Christ, rather than followers of ourselves or others.

I’d encourage you read this book if you can’t remember the last time you had a meaningful moment of prayer with God. Chances are that your moments have been sacrificed on the altar of perceived ‘connection’. This book will encourage you to reclaim a relationship with God, rather than feeding or consuming a superficial form of connection.

I’d encourage you to read this book to get a fresh perspective of the cross. The author spends some time discussing the ‘the world’s greatest spectacle’ and puts into context where our attention should rest. Scripture’s intention is that we would see the cross, and by seeing the cross, we would see Christ in all his majesty and his glory.

You’ve read this, now read the book here.

© 2016 First Christian Church

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