I went to church today for an advent service. It was a moment to reflect upon the current life we lead with facemasks and hand sanitiser. Most of the people there were pensioners, bar the family that came with their young baby, ready to be christened (an odd way of forcing something upon someone who is completely oblivious, it seems baptising your dog would make just as much sense). There were of course, three pre-teen boys ready to cough and make noise at opportune moments to try and get attention. Nobody cared. They stopped.
During the service, I could not help but think there is something to this communal and meditative activity that has made it stick for millenia. The church also advocates for morals and a philosophy, even if it is based on human myth. There is a specific sort of solace received from the traditions and the quietness and the contextually wise words of the priest. I think a quote I come back to often is very poignant here:
“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées
I have been guilty of this, as we all have been at some point. I watch my father blast information into his head 24/7. He even sleeps with YouTube in the background now. He is retired so it does not really affect his livelihood, but it absolutely affects my ability to have a reasonable conversation with him. His attention span is minute; a problem I have been trying to remedy in myself these past few months. This is why I have been meditating an hour a day for the past few weeks, focussing my input (news and media) and output (writing here and in my journal), and just taking life a bit slower. I have a tendency to rush through things to check them off, as they are graded as coursework, when the reality is, nothing is graded. Even coursework. We all die, and the slate will be wiped clean with nothing ever to be written upon it again.
I can see how the church is very apt in these modern times for people, and there is an argument to be made that the benefits outweigh the lack of evidence supporting the base of christianity. However, I do understand that the church can cause some serious issues, this can be seen from the evangelical influence in America, or the history of the Catholic Church in Europe. Nevertheless, I have realised that the decline of religion without an adequate substitute will cause a gap in modern life that can be used to some actor's advantage. In my opinion, it seems ever the more obvious that social media has replaced this void; the power of a few corporations have taken over the power vacuum left by the church. I say this as a believer in physics and science, that I think I would rather have the church than social media.
On a different note, it seems ever more impossible to disconnect, I sometimes think what it will be like if I am lucky enough to reach retirement, will there be any opt-outs at all? Or will cars drive themselves only with the option of voice or mind control and any request to do so otherwise will leave you leagues behind in the society of 2060? I think advocating for people to retake some control of their digital presence is definitely a good start to help influence that future. It does not seem enough though; some food for thought.