Monday, March 12, 2012

Innocent Beginnings, Dangerous Consequences

At times it seems that we have the uncanny knack for distortion. By we, I mean human beings. It never ceases to amaze me how often this happens. Beautiful things can become destructive in our hands. Part of the problem is that too often we leave aside the principle of discipline.

Here is an all too frequent example - internet addiction. Yes. The internet is a great invention facilitating communication across boundaries, opening up seemingly endless possibilities for learning, putting entertainment at our fingertips, and . . . you get the picture. However, without the exercise of discipline in its use, it can become an addiction. This inability to exercise restraint in this area often correlates with other types of addiction as Join Together Staff point out in this following article:

The researchers found the teens who reported substance abuse had significantly higher average scores on the Internet addiction test. Those scores were important predictors for past or present substance use, the researchers ...

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Now this one blew me: Cinnamon. Who would have thought this spice that adds so much flavor to life would become an item that merits a warning about its use?

A high school principal in Ann Arbor is warning parents and students about the dangers of something called the "cinnamon challenge."

I'm reminded of the verse in the Bible: "Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour 1 Peter 5:8." Why does this particular verse come to mind? Well, a disciplined use of cinnamon that keeps it in its proper place would avoid the challenge noted above. In addition, when faced with the seductive promise of always being connected offered by the internet whether via computers, iPads, smartphones or other forms, we need to be disciplined. If not we compromise the relationships in front of us and also run the risk of allowing our lives to be taken over by a "thing." This can hinder our relationships with each other and with God, sacrificing broad yet surface connections and knowledge for depth. So, yes: Discipline and alertness.

The other thing about 1 Peter 5:8 is that it is preceded by a verse that counsels us to give our anxiety to God who cares for us. Some of the inability to disconnect comes from our anxiety that we will miss out, that we will become less important and maybe lose our place, our value. This holds true for adults and students.

So here's the question, how are we modeling a non-anxious, disciplined use of the internet and a non-anxious disciplined approach to life?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

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