God is an infinite being who likes to create.

Wonderful things.

Beautiful things.

Helpful things.

Things that bear a mark of beauty, truth, and goodness.

It only takes a brief pause, a few moments of intentionally noticing the natural world around us, the one just outside our door, and we quickly uncover an abounding expanse of brilliance, harmony, and creative wonder.

With prayerful curiosity we might just conclude there is a sense of play, joy, and delight in God’s crafting and sustaining of our world.

Why hide delicately clothes flowers in a mountain meadow? Why do little birds chirping and singing bring us a sense of delight? Is it necessary for the roaring river carving canyons and cascading off cliffs to inspire in us a sense of majesty?

Or the sun, joining a chorus of planets, quietly dancing through our solar system offering latent lessons on the cycle of life and death?

We are surrounded by a complex tapestry of self-sustaining systems linked through harmonious movement, all instinctively doing what they are designed to do — obey the will of the Father.

And of course, within the vastness of our galaxy, earth is little more than a grain of sand. It is impossible to even begin to imagine the creative wonders the Trinity has been crafting through the ages in the vastness of some two trillion other galaxies.

God is an infinite being who likes to create.

And then here we are, the crowning jewel of God’s creative endeavors on earth. Beloved, handcrafted, eternal beings woven together in God’s image, encapsulated in bodies with regenerative systems so detailed and intricate that our best efforts can barely grasp them.

In some strange and wonderful sense, we bear the thumbprint of the Creator of the galaxies. By thoughtfully and carefully arranging the raw materials God has buried, planted, and scattered around our planet, we too create.

Wonderful things.

Beautiful things.

Helpful things.

Things that bear a mark of beauty, truth, and goodness.

These realities culminate into one very simplistic and critical point: Human creation holds the potential to be a wonderful gift from God for the betterment of humanity. The technological advances and media and technology that dominate and define much of our waking life have come to us as the product of something good and therefore God-inspired.

It is not difficult to find a glimmer of the beauty and goodness of God in the many wonders humans construct. Art, film, music, medicine, architecture, and technology all have the potential to naturally bear the mark of the Creator who crafted us.

Within the biblical narrative we find over and over again God’s relentless desire to engage in human affairs. Not only does God seem to delight in helping, inspiring, and guiding humans in our creative endeavors, but throughout history God continues to unlock the vast potential and possibilities of the raw treasures and resources our planet holds. God creates with us.

Of course, not all human creations are good – far from it. While we live within the possibility to co-labor with God to bring great good upon the earth, we also possess an innate propensity for destruction, and our labors may result in nothing more than shrines to human depravity.

By its very nature, evil cannot create; evil can only twist, distort, and corrupt that which was already good. The hallmarks are always the same; systems and mechanisms rooted in selfishness and power. When we curve inward, it always leads to the dehumanization of other image bearers and ultimately ourselves – media and technology are not immune.

What we as a species now face in terms of access to entertainment, communication, and information is completely unprecedented in the whole of human existence.

The searing rate at which we have been thrust into this new way of living has outpaced our capacity to help one another engage in these new media with wisdom and health.

We are now presented with unparalleled challenges to live free from the intoxicating and crushing pull to comparison. It is almost as if the cultural default is to center our lives and joys around an insatiable desire for more information, gossip, and mind-numbing entertaining, all at the cost of being truly present to those near and dear.

The myriad of new platforms in which to engage with the world leaves many of us empty and unfulfilled. Evil has twisted our healthy and valid human longings to be seen, connected, and accepted with other image bearers. This, in part, may explain the exponential rise in loneliness, anxiety, and depression we as a species are now facing.

Our society is desperately lacking the tools and resources to use new innovations for the long-term good of humanity, to live in this world as free beings rather than victims of an insatiable machine hell-bent on more.

More Likes.”

More information.

More scrolling.

What you will find in the pages of Everyday Sabbath are the invaluable insights and practical tools to help us navigate the amazing, and potentially treacherous, expanse of pop culture.

This may be the most important modern book you read.

As you begin working with this text, I would like to offer a few thoughts I think you will find helpful.

I encourage you to approach this work with an openness and sense of discovery and adventure. Being willing to critically look at the cultural soup we have been swimming in, as well as our consumption habits, requires a certain level of honesty, strength, and even courage. I am certain that if you thoughtfully and honestly work with this text then what you will learn about yourself and the world around you will serve you well for years to come.

Know that this is not a book about disconnecting from the world or suffering for the sake of some misguided religious conviction. This is a book about freedom and growing in awareness of how our habits of consumption influence and affect us, both good and bad. My hope is that you will befriend this work with a prayerful and playful posture, allowing God to teach and guide you into a deeper movement towards fullness of heart and life.

One of the great strengths of this book is the array of practices it offers. Both authors have spent years teaching and honing these exercises. As their academic colleague, I repeatedly witnessed genuine transformation in the lives of countless students who seriously worked with these practices.

At first glance some of these practices may seem difficult or monotonous. You will do well to look beyond the potential discomfort you may experience and view them as an invitation to experiment and locate a window into a deeper life with God.

One word of caution: Do not let a sense of perfectionism get in the way of your work with the exercises. The point is to learn and be with God. Obsessing about your performance will potentially cheat you out of the good they have to offer.

As you embark on your journey through this book, know that you are in good hands. Paul and Robert are trusted guides. I have immense respect for their expertise and the genuineness in which they seek health in their own dance with pop culture.

Have fun.

Related Podcast

From the Foreword to Everyday Sabbath: How to Lead Your Dance with Media and Technology in Mindful and Sacred Ways Paperback by Paul D. Patton and Robert H. Woods Jr. Published by Cascade Books.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Join the 2021-22 Renovaré Book Club

An intentional way to read deeply for transformation. Begins October 2021.

Learn More >