Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

Blessing of Smart Phones

 
Not long ago, I “mused” about my new friend at USC, Shane Cole – whom I refer to affectionately as a “digital Mennonite”.  He’s founding a student club he is calling “Digital Detox” – to promote a radically reduced presence on social media.

In our conversations, I came up with an idea to support his cause:  The Blessing of the Smart Phones.  Our office plans to introduce this ceremony at the opening convocation of the fall semester for incoming students at the University of Southern California.

Here is my first draft of such a ceremony – use freely and spread widely!

With a gathering:  “Lift up your smart phones!”  With an individual:  “Hold out your smart phone!”  (celebrant puts hands around it and around the hand of the owner of the phone)

“Let us take a moment of silence to be mindful of the role this device plays in our lives….. (several seconds)….  Source of needed information, means of communicating personally and professionally, platform for our education, provider of entertainment, and so much more.  We are grateful for this marvel of human ingenuity, for connecting us as one human family around the globe as never before.  And we take time now to be mindful of its power over our lives.  We contemplate which uses are of benefit, and which are obsessions that do not serve us or others well.   In what ways have we become slaves to its beeps and flashes?  Do we have the discipline to turn it off for extended periods in order to have more face-to-face interaction?  Do its social media posts seduce us into unhealthy comparisons of our lives with those of others, and into the commodification of our identities?  Or do we use it to maintain deep relationships, ask sincere questions, and stay close to people we know and trust?  On it, do we seek out reputable news sources, or do we just believe whatever it feeds us?  Do we let it amplify our prejudices, or do we use it as a tool for critical thinking?   Do we passively accept the preferences of the corporations behind this device and its applications, or do we claim control of our digital footprints as engaged citizens?  Prayerfully, let us lift up our intentions to make wise use of our smartphones, and ask daily for inner guidance about when to turn it on and when to turn it off.  Amen!”
 
(See more of my “musings” here….)
 
Rev. Jim Burklo is the Senior Associate Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Southern California.  An ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of seven published books on progressive Christianity, his latest book is Tenderly Calling: An Invitation to the Way of Jesus (St Johann Press, 2021).  His weekly blog, “Musings”, has a global readership.  He serves on the board of ProgressiveChristiansUniting.org and is an honorary advisor and frequent content contributor for ProgressiveChristianity.org.

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