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

Text First Published August 2021 · Last Featured on Renovare.org October 2021

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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