Archive for November, 2017

Liturgy of Mobile Devices

November 6, 2017

Most of us struggle in some fashion with the distractions of cell phones/mobile devices. In fact, we can honestly admit that this technology, which has brought us a tsunami of social connectivity, is driving us more than we are driving the technology. Our normal urges for social connection, in a healthy environment, provide the glue to bind us in mutually nurturing relationships, but now, in a changing tecchnological culture which is developing more quickly than our wisdom, we are experiencing advances that are now being used to hijack and manipulate our urges. Furthermore, it is challenging as a society to develop an effective cohesive check on the rapidly developing technologies. So, how do we regain control? How do we change our unhealthy habits?

Usually, we do not just dispose of unhealthy habits, rather we replace the unhealthy ones with new ones. We replace one ritual (or liturgy) with a new one. I am proposing that there are a couple of levels of liturgies that are available for us to replace our unhealthy liturgies.


While all our days look different from each other’s in many ways, the component of the day that I am looking at right now is the part where we interact with our technology. Various studies, such as the one’s mentioned here (, show the effect of unabated use of cell phones, when we allow ourselves to be slaved to the demands of the device. Part of our task is to realize that we need to confront what has been called the tyranny of the urgent ( and thoughtfully consider what things are truly important versus those things we are perceiving as urgent and structure our days appropriately according to our thought out priorities. As we do that, we need to keep in mind the Great Commandments and we also need to humbly consider how we interact with God through the day and confront our perceived need for our control vs. our actual need to recognize God’s control. It is in that context that we may need to let others know that we are not always going to be instantly responding to notifications.

There are a few techniques that are available for cell phone app management. A couple are mentioned in the first article referenced above.

  • Silencing the phone: This can be done in hour before bedtime in order to not have the phone impact our sleep or at other times when we want to focus
  • Putting your cell phone away and out of sight (or in another room) at various times during the day (e.g. mealtimes, while meeting with friends)
  • Controlling your notifications on your apps. This can be done by turning off notification sounds, banners, etc.
  • Putting the notifications with banners on a secondary screen and planning what times of the day you will choose to look at those apps


With the liturgy of the day established, we have the context set for the next step. If we are receiving the emails for the daily prayers, we still may have the challenge of handling the very device that is distracting us from what we hold to be important to with things that we are perceiving as urgent. But now if we establish that the email containing the prayer is important compared to what we have perceived as the urgent notifications from the apps, we have the possibility of establishing a liturgy to counteract our old mindset.

There is one technique of managing the mobile device distraction by simply not using it. That is a valid strategy but a purely defensive one. However, we may be able to use the emailed prayer in an offensive strategy, and replace our liturgy of distractedness with a liturgy of focus. To create this new liturgy we can use a centering prayer ( In the prayer emails sent out by Resurrection Brooklyn, the first two sentences are:

God is near because he loves you. Turn your hearts to him and find new life.

So one option is to use those sentences in our centering prayer. Whatever we decide to use, once we have a prayer set up that we always use then over time we can memorize it and use that prayer anytime, not only when we are intending to open the prayer email but whenever we pick up the phone, causing the phone to now be an object that calls us to prayer instead of being an object that causes distraction.

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