Liturgy and literacy amid modern challenges (part 1 with Amy Auten)
Today’s world of ever-present technology and constant news can make it hard to pursue healthy routines with your kids. How can parents encourage literacy and liturgy amid modern challenges? We're joined by God's Big WORLD editor Amy Auten on today's episode.
KELSEY REED: Hello, welcome to Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast from WORLD Radio and God’s WORLD News. I’m your host, Kelsey Reed. Today I’m here with Jonathan Boes and one of our consistent partners in conversation, Amy Auten.
At Concurrently, we approach the news through a discipleship perspective. We come alongside parents, educators, and mentors of kids and teens as co-laborers. We tackle the challenging topics in culture and current events as learners. We consider the whole person, promoting growth in knowledge, attitudes, and desires, and in our actions in the world. And we love to welcome other educators and parents to speak into our content. We love when you join the conversation. Please send in your questions or comments by way of voice recording or email to email@example.com.
JONATHAN BOES: Yes, we love to receive your questions. Just this past week, we received some excellent, excellent questions about our artificial intelligence episode we released last week with Dr. Michael Finch. And we’re excited to tackle those in the near future. But we are not going to do those quite yet.
Today, we are—I would say we’re doing something a little more reflective. It’s a new year. We’re still right here at the beginning of January. And there are a lot of challenges to our education process, our discipleship process with our kids—challenges that are unique to the modern world we live in. But we also can point to so many good practices from the past, things like liturgies that promote good discipleship, that promote literacy—cultural literacy, plain old biblical literacy. Today, we want to take a take stock of our surroundings in this year, in our culture, and look at some of the things that we have been doing and some of the things we hope to do. And we’re excited to have Amy here with us to help us unpack that.
KELSEY: So to turn some of those thoughts into a question for today that you might pause, pray over, consider. How would you answer this question of: How do we guard literacy and liturgy, as believing parents and educators, for the sake of renewal? Cultural, familial, in the church, which—of course, all of these things have overlap. We’re not trying to put them into different circles. But it’s good to name that we’re seeking renewal when we ask this question. And we’re thinking about how that works outward, how our gospel commitments work outward into culture, and come from those places of intentionality.
Speaking of intentionality, I think it’s really important to name: Every time that we tackle any of these topics in culture, we sit down in this studio, and we think about how desperate we are for the Lord to guide our words, for the Lord to help us unpack the questions or to even, you know, find the right questions to ask that help us to examine either a topic or our own hearts—and so we launch every time with prayer. And I was thinking about this question and saying to you, pause, read this question over from the Companion, think about it, pray over it. Let this be a moment of intention, just as we are also seeking to bring into this space today as you listen.
So regarding liturgy, I want to unpack that a little bit more, because we can use that term in a very spiritual sense, or in a very traditional kind of sense. And it’s a word that has become actually used more and more often, even by those who are writing about this digital age. We’re calling something a “digital liturgy.” Even as we’re talking about digital literacy, we’re realizing we have adopted different practices in this technical age, where just technology is rapidly changing. And so with that, our routines, our practices are changing. And so there’s a recent author, Samuel James, who even wrote a book called Digital Liturgies. We’re talking about liturgy in that sense of these practices that we install in life, that hopefully are intentional, that shape health, that consider the whole person as we talked about in our intro. What are the things that we practice towards greater health and greater engagement in the Lord’s world?
Part of what helped me shape my thoughts on this was actually a devotional we had in our company. WORLD does devotions online about once a week during our normal times. And CEO Kevin Martin led us through thinking about the calendar, even the church calendar, as a way of remembering. And liturgy can take a real gospel shape, not just be a dry, rote practice. We can think about these different aspects of what the Lord has done for us, what is good in creation, what we have to give thanks for. And that can send us into a reflection of our brokenness, where we have need of confession, the areas where repentance really will bring greater life and refreshment and renewal. And then, of course, in that repentance, we’re recognizing that so much has been done for us in Christ. And we press into thinking about even the days of His life on Earth. These are things that can be a part of our practice, a part of our remembering, and a part of our looking forward. So I want to ask this question. I hope that we can do some looking back as a part of what we start off with this morning. And, Amy, I’m going to pose it to you first: What habits or disciplines have you installed for yourself or your children, that you’ve returned to again and again and developed as your children have grown?
AMY AUTEN: I want to be honest up front and say, every parent I know, especially at the beginning of the school year or a new semester, maps out strategies and plans, and you start strong, and you fizzle, and you go up and down. And if you’re attentive to your schedule, and your needs, and your kids’ needs, you actually probably should regroup and rethink some things. It’s easy to get legalistic with agendas—not just academic, but even spiritual agendas. We can miss each other with our kind of legalistic efforts to check all the boxes. And you start to realize, I’m doing this not for the sake of discipleship or growth, but I’m doing it to feel like I was a good parent. Lord Jesus, help us to embrace what is rich, and what bears fruit, and to keep our eyes open to look—like tending a garden, like look for, is it bearing fruit? Or is this choking things? So Lord, give us intention and reflection, and grace. Because some days you cannot get to everything. I can’t get to everything I want to do. I’ve just cranked off a new year. I have ideas about what I want to do every day, and I’m already not hitting them. I can’t get them all done. There needs to be grace there. All that said, you also have to know your family really well. So different families have different loves. And so my kids love music. And there’s a passage of scripture that says, you know, “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” And most of us do that in church. But when you’ve got musical kids, it’s just a no brainer to pull it in somehow. And especially at dinnertime, when everyone’s tired, and you’re kind of—you may be floundering for words, for prayer time, or prayers become very rote. We have hymnals on the dinner table, and we’ll sing a line of a hymn. And we aren’t done with Christmas hymns yet. So we’re still singing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” And that’s one of many things that we’re trying to do.
KELSEY: Christmas doesn’t end at my house until January 6. So I am fully on board with the practice of this reflection in this moment. And I’m actually reminded, as you’re talking about Christmas, that some of what we’re doing also makes me think of A Christmas Carol. So, you know, the Ghost of Christmas Past. So we’re doing that blending of seasons. We were thinking about just these things that have been installed as healthy practices, and what do we resolve. A bit I love that you mentioned, and it ties into my concept of this gospel shape that it takes, that already we can be full of intention in the new year and already falling flat on our faces.
JONATHAN: That intention part is so key, because when it comes to liturgies in the home—and like you said, not just spiritual liturgies, but just our routines and these habits we have that shape us—I really don’t think it’s a question of whether or not we have liturgies in the home. It’s whether or not we have intentional liturgies. Because what I find is that, no matter what, we fall into some sort of pattern. And what I know is that that pattern is going to shape us in some way. I’m just not always thinking about that. So if I’m not actually thinking about “What are we doing?”, we just kind of all fall back into, you know, this is when we get on our phones, and this is when we sit in front of the TV, and this is when we get a snack. You end up dividing your day usually into some sort of routine. And often, I find that that is shaped by convenience or external necessities in our life, like, right?
One of the great things that my wife, Chelsea, has been so instilling with our kids is this morning Bible reading time, based off of the Anglican calendar, whatever is, you know, in the Book of Common Prayer, what we are reading for that day during morning prayer time. And they will sit and have breakfast and read. But the obstacle to that is, the bus is coming when the bus is coming. You’ve got to get to school. And so it’s always easier to default into whatever routines and habits are being forced on us by external pressures. And so that intentionality in the face of the pull of comfort, the pull of convenience, the pull of external pressures—to me, that’s what makes this whole thing challenging.
KELSEY: Yeah, because the thing that really inspired me to crunch on this question is this hope and dream, really, to not have the external pressures be the thing that sets our intention, to want to carve out the space for what we do, instead of it being a reaction to what’s going on and hemmed in so tightly that we really don’t have those opportunities to see long, just slow process unfold over the word or with one another. Giving that time that is so often necessary for us to really dig deep into our heart level, to be aware of even what’s going on there, instead of it just being a knee jerk or an instinct, some kind of reflex. So my desire in my home is to create those spaces and to allow those spaces then, or what is done in those spaces, to bleed out, to move outward into everything that we do, to frame just our response to the news, to our relationships. And so some of the things that I think about in terms of past practices—because really, it’s gotten harder since everybody’s been in school, since the bus is coming, since two of us are working full time. It is really helpful for me to think back on these practices and go, okay, now where can we fit them? It may not be in the morning, where, you know, those pressures are great, and we’re running around and trying to get out the door on time, or the car isn’t working like it was this morning. But there’s still a chance, if we will take it, to carve out and do those things that have been life-giving: the singing of hymns, the reading books aloud. These have been life-giving to us.
JONATHAN: And I think another obstacle I find is that—I love what you said about how it doesn’t have to be in the morning, because it’s so easy to have this idealized version of what these healthy routines should look like. It’s going to be first thing in the morning, and it’s going to be in this set apart space, and the kids aren’t going to be crying. Nobody’s going to be—right? I think that sort of expectation, or that desire for everything to be just right, can kind of kill the habit-forming process, because you’re going to get defeated right away. I know for myself, like I said, Chelsea has been leading this morning thing. In the morning, I’m like 15%. I am not a morning person. I’m much more on the ball with things in the evening and at night. But even when we do things later in the day, you know, when you’ve got young kids in the house, there might be a lot of noise going on, there might be a mess, and sometimes it’s pursuing these things even when the space or the time isn’t perfect. You use that term “carving out,” and it does really sometimes feel like you just need to carve out a pocket, even if there’s kind of chaos around. You can carve it out and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be whatever so and so said on a podcast: “You have to do it for this long, at this time, in this setting.” It’s just kind of that getting started and doing it in a sustainable way. And maybe this is getting a little far ahead, but just the idea of doing what you can do and getting started is really important. That’s something I’m definitely still learning, to bite off what I can chew to start.
KELSEY: Now we may be doing that handshake between past experience and forward intention. And that’s going to happen a lot probably in this conversation. I think about what I saw my dad doing. He is a major morning person. He would get up at 4:30 and sit before the Lord for an hour or two. It was his quiet moment where the chaos of us children was hemmed in enough, because we were still sleeping. He could prepare for sermons then. But that’s not everybody’s life. It’s not my life. I’m not that morning person. But I have teens. And what it means for me to be intentional with teens is being up with them at night in that space where their brains are coming alive. And I know you have teens too. How has maybe some of what you’ve done in the past—again, I’m kind of returning to that question—how have you developed it in a way that reflects these changing seasons with your sons?
AMY: I want to dovetail what Jonathan just said too, when he talks about when we put so much pressure on the structure of the moment, we can lose something. One thing that’s been happening, now that I have teen drivers, is we’re often all in different directions, which means we can’t be together as much. However, something has been happening just this week that I think is so cool. We’re forgetting things. We’re getting rerouted. And the beauty of modern technology is, you can redeem the interruptions. And so here’s how it looks. So my oldest had to do unexpected driving to all these different job sites. He’s working with a building crew. And he realized, “I’ve got my phone.” And so what could have been mundane traffic, you know, drudgery—he listened to three sermons and sent me a link to one of them, said “You’ve got to listen to this.” Okay, so I, this week, I left my laptop at work and desperately needed it to prepare for this talk. And so I thought, I’ve got go back to work. And then I thought, that’s a sermon. And if it’s a good one, I’ll send it to the boys. So there’s this awareness that interruptions can be really redeemable in that regard. I think they were always redeemable, because you can be praying or singing at the top of your lungs. But technology—we have so many good resources now. And so the same thing happened this summer. We went last summer—I should say we went on a trip out West. I miscalculated a day’s drive. And it was like three extra hours. We’re going to be in the car. Well, John Cleese did an audio recording of [The] Screwtape Letters that’s off the charts. Brilliant. And it’s on YouTube.
JONATHAN: You know we love C.S. Lewis here.
AMY: We listened to the whole thing. And I don’t even remember the drive, because it was so good.
JONATHAN: Redeeming the interruptions. I love that.
AMY: Yes. Because of technology. So praise God for that way to use it.
KELSEY: Right? Because I was going to ask about the challenges inherent in this digital age, because of course, we’re linking it back to these almost enforced liturgies of the digital realm. And yet, you’ve already been pointing to the redemptive aspect of it. And I’m so grateful. Because we look at these studies—there’s been this article out recently. We’re going to unpack it in a future episode. You can maybe hear my paper rustling.
JONATHAN: You can’t rustle papers, we’re not doing a SOAR episode! Haha.
KELSEY: This is foreshadowing. We will be unpacking this wonderful article, sobering article, called A New Type of Dementia Plagues America. It came out in November. We’re going to be SOARing it in the future. But we wanted to even start with more of a hopeful thought, again, not just reacting to what we’re reading, but carving out that shape and that intention and these practices that we can communicate that are redemptive, even in this moment that seems heavy, that seems full of technology. There are ways that this provides those opportunities that you’ve already been naming—and I’m thankful for you starting that way instead of starting with the broken. I do want us to name what’s been particularly challenging, even amidst the redemptive. You know, as we’ve been experiencing these cultural changes in this era, what do you do with the vast quantity of information that’s out there? You know, how do you wrangle it, set boundaries? And this for all of us to try to answer.
AMY: I do think that a word that keeps coming back, that Jonathan echoed, was “intention.” And again, it’s easier at the start of the new year to have all these goals. So I’m watching myself and my sons have that greater focus and intention. For example, there’s a default—after dinner, we all go to our phones, because we’re tired. And that starts the either texting friends, which is awesome, or scrolling, which can be entertaining. But we will often say to each other, let’s give each other 30 minutes to relax, and then we’ll regroup. And often that 30 minutes goes to an hour and then they have to take showers and I’ve missed a window. And sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes everyone’s fatigued and needs that reprieve, but I don’t want to miss them. I want to be way more intentional, because this is probably my last year with my guys all together in the same house before we launch for college. So if I want them to linger with me, I have to be intentional. And because we’re all tired after long workdays, we’re going backwards to old children’s books that they loved, that we read aloud when they were younger, or new picture books that we discovered this Christmas. So last night, we sat on the sofa, and we read aloud some picture books, and I instigated that. And it worked out. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. You know, sometimes people don’t really want to do it. You have to kind of control or, you know, bring cookies into the mix.
JONATHAN: Yes, snacks. That’s the key to a lot of this.
KELSEY: “If you give a teen a cookie, they’ll want to sit and read a book with you.”
JONATHAN: I’ll say that also works for seven—eight, sorry, eight-year-olds. My oldest turned eight. It works for eight-year-olds as well.
AMY: So like, involve food.
JONATHAN: That’s really the whole thing. Just involve food and the whole routine thing falls into place.
AMY: It’s true, though. There’s something to breaking bread. Like, if I read aloud a book while we’re still at the dinner table, they stay at the table.
KELSEY: I’m taking notes here.
AMY: Well, and one of our favorite books for that setting is, it’s called Parables of a Country Parson. And my church history professor in seminary would read aloud to us and we’re all, you know, 30s, 40s. We loved it. You don’t outgrow this. And so we’ll do that, and we’ll pass the book around, and everyone will read. And last night, one of the picture books had originally been written in the Netherlands. So my younger, Ben, busted out this hilarious Netherlandish accent. And that carried us. And again, know your kids, know your audience, because my kids love books. I love accents. They’ve done theater. And so this is a natural organic fit. Other things might be, you turn on the best dance music and everyone thrashes around the living room. Like, the connection doesn’t have to be based on my family structure. Know your kids. If you know they love being outside—and in my experience, children are always happier outside, with food. So late at night, go look at the stars together. This is an excellent time of year, even though it’s cold. So just know your audience, know your kiddos, be intentional, even if it’s only 10 minutes. That 10 minutes matters.
KELSEY: My people are game players. If we will wrangle and be intentional after dinner, get cleaned up, and the table becomes of course the game table. And so much of that face time, instead of doing the games on your phone, you know that that face time is brought to bear—you know, we’re touching beautiful cards. One of my children, you know, the artist, I think I’ve mentioned before—she has this great deck of cards that she was a part of crowdfunding and it finally came, and we busted that out and enjoyed the beauty of this wonderful design in this deck of cards.
But what I did notice, in terms of some of those obstacles that I feel like our family is climbing back from, this place of lost intention and lost threads, or threads that kind of—you think of when fabric tears and like the threads start curling off? You know, when my husband lost his job in the middle of COVID, that really just interrupted our flow. It messed with all of our streams of intention. And it was at a time where we were getting to that place of having two teenagers as well. I mean, so much change happened all at once. And I looked back at one of those pictures that Facebook loves to throw up for you to show what happened, you know, three years ago at this date, and I saw us all gathered around the table, and I saw us studying scripture, and I saw hymnals out. I mean, this is something that has not been true of us, really, until quite recently, again, when we installed those practices at Advent this year, and where we pulled up those things that are a part of what we would call that liturgical calendar of the Christian faith. And so while we might have downplayed that a little bit, some of what I want to say is that, you can find places to track back to intention with what comes near you, with what stirs your family’s heart, what is reflective of their personality, but not just linger there. I would say that this is also the moment to challenge yourself, to start with what is close and familiar and just, yeah, a reflection of the different learning styles of different ages—but recognizing that growth comes with challenge. I was speaking to a friend of mine this morning, and she helped me think about this through the category of self-care, but also self-protection, and knowing when something has become so comfortable that you’re protecting yourself from growth. And so just as we look back, we look at the things that were comfortable, we seek to bring them into our now, but recognize that we’re doing that, in large part, to face the challenges that come, to face the days that are ahead. I think of the Proverbs 31 woman who is laughing at the days to come because she has clothed her children in scarlet. You know, we’re clothing our children and ourselves with intention, that we might face the days to come. So I think I want to be even more forward thinking. But beforehand, Jonathan, did you have anything else that you wanted to share from past experiences that you want to draw with you into future expression?
JONATHAN: Yeah, and it relates right back to the challenge, which I think—one of the big challenges of today’s world, when it comes to any sort of reflective habit forming, is the fact that we don’t really have boredom anymore, right? Our kids might say they’re bored. But I mean, if you want to, you can fill every second. Just a personal anecdote: About five years ago, maybe, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. It’s on there again, but I don’t use it as much. But there was a point in my life where it was just like, I just need to delete the Facebook app from my phone. And I noticed, the day I did that, I was going from my office to my car. And just like the five seconds between getting in my car and putting my seatbelt on, I found myself reaching for the Facebook icon. And I realized, I am filling every spare second of my life with unintentional scrolling. Like, it wasn’t for any good purpose. It was just—I was just filling those five seconds of nothingness between getting out of the office and into my car. And so going back to before I even had a phone that could run apps, when I was a teenager, I would—one of my first jobs was just mowing lawns. And that hour or two hours it took to mow a lawn, with nothing to do but maybe listen to music and think, those were some of the most refreshing times of creative growth, and just like spiritual refreshment, honestly, that I can think of in my past. And so to cultivate those moments of, honestly, boredom, or at least a task that allows for reflection—I think that can be so valuable. Because with everything we have access to today, you can go through just vast spans of time without a moment for reflection. And I find myself doing that and getting in that rut, where I’m filling each of those five seconds with something. And I just—it’s like that dead feeling. It’s almost like that feeling when you haven’t taken a shower yet, but for the soul. That’s the best way I can describe it. And so just somehow find and guard those moments of boredom for both, I think myself as a parent, but also for kids. It’s hard, but that can be so good.
KELSEY: So some of the themes I’m hearing already, you know—failure that produces greater intention, boredom that produces creativity, limits that produce expansion. It’s interesting, how many just juxtapositions that we have. But what a beautiful just unpacking of, you know, how do we slow down and not find the discomfort something that we’re trying to run away from. How do we embrace it and see how full the fruitfulness can be out of embracing the discomfort, the challenge, even the boredom, the failure, the repentance? We’ve talked a little bit about liturgies and practices. And I think one of the other questions that I had in mind has to do with kind of helping to shape a certain type of literacy as well. What we know about the world, what we know about God, what we know about man, or what we think about these things, is constantly being shaped if we are not unplugging from all of these streams of content, maybe seeking the boredom, seeking the reflection. So literacy is a big part of what we’re talking about as well. So how do we guard good literacy? These go hand in hand with those practices, but what does good cultural literacy look like? Biblical literacy? How do we just cultivate that, foster those wholesome literacies?
AMY: I have in front of me a book called On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. That’s a very old theological treatise on—he’s meditating on the divinity of Christ, which in his era was very much in dispute. But C.S. Lewis does the preface. And he notes—this is amazing, because this—it’s true for him in his era, but it’s very truthful now. He says, “Right now, if you want to learn about Plato, you read a bunch of articles and a bunch of commentaries. But you don’t read Plato.” Because you’re intimidated by him. But guess what? He’s accessible. But it’s a big book. And you’re going to have to work through it. And so we’re in—I’ve seen myself, with the scrolling. And even—I know you’ve noticed this—news magazines will now let you know, “This is a four-minute read, five-minute read.” Because we don’t have time for more than four minutes. Well, guess what? Books take so much more time, but the payoff is huge. And I can’t get from even the best theological website the depth that’s in an old theological treatise. Now—and here’s something else that he’ll say. He doesn’t want us to make vague halos around all the old writers, as if they’re far superior. But he has a great observation. He says, “People were no cleverer then than they are now. They made as many mistakes as we, but not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing and their own errors being now open and palpable will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”
KELSEY: The argument for reading the old.
AMY: So we need to read the old, because they’re working through the mistakes that were made the previous generation. We need to read the current and to pull apart what’s rich and good, but also what might be faulty. And then he says something else that really stood out to me. I’ll be brief. He says, when he’s talking about people who write devotionals versus the hard, difficult theological treatises, like a book like Romans—go sit down with that. You can’t whiz through. That’s not a four-minute read. But he’ll say, “I believe that many who find that nothing happens when they sit down or kneel down to a book of devotion would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” Like, it’s work. We don’t want to work. We’re tired. But this is such redemptive work. And when you push your kids lovingly to read big works, like—Ben just worked through Victor Hugo, Les Mis. That’s like four novels’ worth. It’s massive. He said, “Mom, this is the best thing I’ve ever read.” I made him read it. There was accountability. There was structure. There was like 10 pages a day, 15 pages a day, and it was rigid. He’s so glad he did it. And here’s the other thing. I’m making him write a paper on it. He didn’t want to write it. He’s coming at me, “Mom. I’m not able to realize the depth of this book unless I process it by writing about it.” And this is my 17-year-old saying so. And here’s the catch: I need to be doing what he’s doing. We’re worried about technology’s impact on young people. It’s impacting me, as my attention span has shrunk—I like to scroll, I like to flit about. But I need a pipe in my teeth and a pencil in my hand. If I’m going to really grapple with biblical text, hard theological concepts, I need to work hard. It’s the best work.
JONATHAN: And by showing a love of that to our kids, I think that goes such a long way to—if we can show them the value and beauty of something in our own lives, you know, it’s much easier to transmit that value downward.
KELSEY: I don’t know about you guys, but there was a time in my life—that’s not now, but I hope to reclaim it—but where, if I would sit in front of a book like that, it was almost meditative, like your lawn-mowing was. Like that—I could find that space beyond the words for reflection. It worked that space into my mind somehow, so that I could even pause and allow the stillness to happen and know just that my mind had done that good work, and like a muscle that’s been worked out and is like, “That felt so good,” and can rest, like my brain had better rest after it as well, you know, that beyond the words, there was that moment for quiet and reflection, and it was so satisfying. So recognizing, in our literacy practices, that there is work that’s being done, but also somehow this creating that space for rest, and for the mind to blossom, and creating that perspective that we really, I think, need so desperately in this world that is becoming so polarized, so divided, that I think that is coming through that lack of space. I don’t know how to try to connect the dots to what I mean. But I think that we are so hurried that we don’t know how to slow down long enough for those relationships to have the margin, the space.
JONATHAN: And that comes right back to something I was trying to say up top, with the carving out space even amidst the chaos. And when I think of approaching a big book, and going to that place where I’m really diving deep, I want to have the quiet armchair and the pencil and the pipe. I’m probably not going to get that until maybe 10pm. Sometimes you just have to find a space for that amidst the chaos, and it’s not going to be this perfect quiet. It’s not going to be uninterrupted. But you can still find it. And that’s where it’s hard, I think, for me at least.
KELSEY: I hear that. I absolutely agree. So we’re at this place where we’ve done a lot of coverage of what it means to feed the mind, and even to engage in practices that allow the feeding of the mind. We’re seeing how that’s partnered with the heart. We’re seeing how that unfolds in relationship and even creates greater scope and space for the relational, for that development of the core of our being, developing our affections, our desires, our appetites, our loves, as it has been said.
AMY: For whatever reason, when I’m reading print scripture on a cycle that’s pushing me through whole books—if I’m sitting with scripture—I don’t know why, this is mysterious to me, but things start popping into my head to pray for. And for whatever reason, it doesn’t—it sometimes doesn’t work that way if I’m hustling, or if it’s digitized. I’m maybe more distracted. But God seems to really honor, like you said, the moment on the lawnmower. When there’s deep, wide space He seems to really—He comes at us whenever He wants all the time. But I get helped, I can really see Him helping me sometimes in those spaces of reading, where there’s more wiggle room.
KELSEY: When we’re talking about so much of life with the virtual or life with machines, life in the digital—we were made of the same matter as everything else. And yet we have this distinctive connection to God and nature that was breathed into us, that our minds are, and our spirits are, our soul, our hearts are attuned very closely both to Him as Spirit, because of His Spirit indwelling us, but also to creation, as matter. We’re such a unique creature. And that’s something that a machine can never do for us, and that a digital realm can never be for us in the same way that having our feet firmly grounded in matter and our hearts, again, indwelled by the Spirit, to shape us. And so we need to think about how other we are, and what our place then is in this world, as a part of how we shape our intention, with how we engage with it. I know I’m using different words to say things that I’ve said in the past, that when we look through the lens of the Redemptive Narrative, we see that our position in the world is unique in terms of how we are a priesthood to creation, and how we bring out its best, and how we reflect, in that priesthood, the Creator to creation, and that only when we are standing in the place that was created for us to stand, only when we are are filling that space and finding that space, are those dynamics held in beautiful balance and harmony before the Father.
So we’ve talked a lot about intention. We talked about some things that are that are theologically a little abstract. And in our next episode, we’re going to be talking about how to bring those things into action. And so I hope that you’ve been able to follow some of our thinking about how we can create space, and what are some practices that we can do. And for right now, I want to close this with thinking about the idea of our growth in Christ, and about how, because He went before us—and He is not surprised by the cultural dynamics of our day—He went before us to grow perfectly, taking on flesh. And He grew in stature. He grew in wisdom. He grew in grace and in favor. If you look in Luke 2, that talks about His development as a human being, that He took on this flesh in order to mature perfectly, and give us that record to our account. And that gives me a lot of hope for this approach of what we might do, knowing that the Father already has a posture of favor towards us. He sees His Son. And so how can we revel in His delight and run all over His creation in a way that brings Him even greater pleasure? This is work, but it is good work. And He has equipped you for the work.
Today’s world of ever-present technology and constant news can make it hard to pursue healthy routines with your kids. How can parents encourage literacy and liturgy amid modern challenges? We're joined by God's Big WORLD editor Amy Auten on today's episode.
Check out The Concurrently Companion for this week’s downloadable episode guide including discussion questions and scripture for further study. Sign up for the News Coach Newsletter at gwnews.com/newsletters.
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See more from the News Coach, including episode transcripts.
- Learn about some great children’s books for family reading at wng.org
- Listen to John Cleese’s narration of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. (Note: This is a YouTube link. The Concurrently team does not have control over other videos YouTube may suggest).
- Read Bekah McCallum’s review of Digital Liturgies by Samuel D. James.
Concurrently is produced by God’s WORLD News. We provide current events materials for kids and teens that show how God is working in the world. To learn more about God’s WORLD News and browse sample magazines, visit gwnews.com.
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