All the new toys coming out these days from a computer to a mobile office with a "Bluetooth" to a 'Nano iPod" excite many of us, including myself, and leave others scratching their heads. Cellphones and computers have become thinner and lighter and have merged into a single device that continues to shrink in size while holding more data. But how much is it all helping us?
Not long ago, I talked with a writer about an article she wrote for this paper. Her mission was to spend a week investigating the possibilities of having all sorts of entertainment her way. She downloaded movies and television programs that she had "TiVoed" to her iPod, cellphone, and MP3 player so she could watch them on her time – in line at the bank, on the beach, or curled up in a chair ("Making TV jump through hoops," Jan. 27). While writing the article, she was compelled to answer the question, "We can do all of these things technologically, but should we?"
That question continues to haunt me, even though I make choices along those lines every day. I know my limits and my fascinations. I could devote a whole day to surfing the Web or just learning all of the capabilities of a single piece of equipment. But the question keeps coming back, "Will it entice me to sink deeper into materialism, or free me up so that I can increasingly grow spiritually?"
Much has been gained through technological advancement, but it can become an end in itself. For example, the Internet can be of immeasurable help in researching articles such as this one, or it can consume countless hours with things that are neither of particular interest nor help. Depending on one's interests, the Internet can fill souls with increased spiritual understanding of the Bible or foster lustful pursuits.
I've come to realize that while gadgetry is fun, and sometimes even freeing, clarity regarding one's priorities is essential. When this is the case, technology takes its place as a tool rather than a distraction.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," identified a standard for assessing the value of virtually anything in life when she grounded this Science on two cardinal points: "the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good" (p. 52).
True freedom from materialism and its encumbrances comes from turning to Spirit. Technology might provide the tools, but never the impetus, for a more ordered life. That derives directly from Spirit, God, and is available to every one of us, whether or not we have the latest gadget.
Mary Baker Eddy foresaw a day when the whole universe will be seen in spiritual terms. She wrote: "The compounded minerals or aggregated substances composing the earth, the relations which constituent masses hold to each other, the magnitudes, distances, and revolutions of the celestial bodies, are of no real importance, when we remember that they all must give place to the spiritual fact by the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit. In proportion as this is done, man and the universe will be found harmonious and eternal" (p. 209).
In the long run, this is what will make a difference to individual lives. Devoting thought to better understand God as Spirit and the spiritual nature of man as wholly good, we feel greater harmony and purpose in our lives. Step by step, this will advance us beyond even the greatest hopes for technological achievements.
Happy is the man
that findeth wisdom,
and the man that getteth understanding.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise
of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
Proverbs 3:13, 14