Technology and Noise



Speaker 1 (00:00):

Our scripture comes from Psalms 8 1 3 through four in verse nine, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth you have set your glory in the heavens. When I consider your heavens the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them human beings, that you care for them, Lord, our Lord. How majestic is your name in all the earth? This is the word of the Lord. 


Speaker 2 (00:36):

Good morning everybody. My name is Jeremy. I am one of the pastors at Jeremy. I'm super excited to be talking to you today about being with God. And if you have been following along with us in our book, if you got it, last week that Jonathan started, this is the book called Being with God by AJ Cheryl, we are in the chapters two and three, and this book is a helpful guideline for us to learn to pray better. Right at the very beginning of the book, he talks about there's four different types of prayers. I just want to reiterate those real quick. There is talking at God, speaking to God, listening for God and being with God. Being with God is when we're trying to focus more and more on, because it's very hard to do in a busy world. It's hard to do in a not busy world because learning to tune your voice or tune your ear to the voice of God is difficult. 


Speaker 2 (01:33):

So I want to start with an opening prayer from the shaman, which is starts with Deuteronomy verse or chapter six verse four, and this is how this prayer starts here. Oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one hero. Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. This is the opening of a prayer that those who practice Judaism say twice a day. And it is parallels the passage in the gospels where Jesus says, love the Lord God will follow your heart, soul, mind, and likewise love your neighbor as yourself. In the Old Testament, this is the beginning of that same type of prayer. And so as you're looking at this, I want to read kind of what these words mean. So here I'm going to read this part from a scholar that talks about this one verse. I always find it fascinating that people can write whole doctorate and dissertations on like one verse 10 words, but here's what he says. 


Speaker 2 (02:33):

He says through this though, this opening verse is now taken as the ultimate affirmation of monotheism. It seems likely that the ancient Israelites originally saw as a declaration of mantry. These are two weird words, but they both start with one mono means one. Okay? So monotheism holds that there is only one God for all people. In this case, the God of the Hebrew Bible tree recognizes that there are other gods, but that the Israelites believe in one God, the one God of the Hebrew Bible. And so after Jesus walked the Earth, 200 500 ce, a bunch of rabbis wrote a bunch of stuff about this opening prayer and they compiled it together. And this is what they found. They wrote that the Lord is our God. That's the middle section of that scripture. The Lord is our God applies to the present and that the Lord is one, which is the last part of that verse is for the future. 


Speaker 2 (03:29):

So it's existing in the present and the future. The idea is that Jews are the ones who acknowledge God in the present while in the future. The hope is that all humanity will recognize God of the Hebrew Bible as the one true God. So they exist in two worlds. And as I read that and I was thinking about monotheism and mantry and all these crazy theological words and reading this book, I was thinking about how we have all kinds of things that are pulling our attention away from us. Now, if you're a Christian, you'll confess that God is the one true God, existing in the Father, son and Holy Spirit and that there are no other gods around there. But we often talk about idols and things that are pulling our attention away from God, away from Yahweh. And so I wanted to think about what some of those things are. 


Speaker 2 (04:19):

In the book of this section, we're talking about technology and noise, like literal noise. And I think these things are fascinating because I love technology. I love the advancement of humankind. I love that we have figured out how to do insane amounts of things. I love that we have computers that can do calculations in our pockets that are greater than the calculations that were done to send people to the moon. I think that's all fascinating stuff. But I am also able to recognize that technology and all this business makes it very easy to avoid being still and being present with God. And the Israelites would've dealt with the same thing When they moved to the Promised Land, they were surrounded by a bunch of different countries. And the one country that the one nation of people of Keenan Knights, they had over two hundred and thirty, thirty four gods by themselves. 


Speaker 2 (05:19):

So one culture had 234 gods. They had a God for everything. The creator, night, day play, war love. I mean I have all the gods for everything. Now. I am not one to bemoan technology like I said. But as I was looking at the pros and cons, I wanted to sort of list some of these things out to understand how they can pull our attention away from God. So some of the pros of technology is it gives us a ton of information. We have so much information at our fingertips. It has shed light on a lot of things happening around the world, which brings us in. We have community. We can have community in the digital age, unlike any community that we've ever had before. A personal example is there's a group that I have started on Facebook, social media with a bunch of other pastors. 


Speaker 2 (06:08):

It's called Neurodivergent Clergy. Now, if you've never heard this term, neurodivergent or neurotypical, it is basically understanding how our brains work. So Neurodivergence covers a whole bunch of different topics that includes adhd, which I have depression, autism, bipolar, obsessive compulsive disorder. And there are a lot of pastors that have these things that they deal with as they're trying to be pastors and trying to care for God's people. And if you go through any pastoral training that is not on really anybody's radar, any advice you get to be a pastor is always meant for people who are neurotypical. Let me give you a personal example, adhd. How many people when they see the dishes that need to be done in the sink can just will themselves to do it. They see dirty dishes in the sink cause they're like, I have to do these dishes, I'm going to do it. 


Speaker 2 (07:04):

Who can do that? Right? A lot of people can just say, I need to do these dishes. I can see the dirty dishes. I can know that I need to do the dirty dishes. I know that my wife will get mad at me if I do not do the dirty dishes. And yet there is a literal brick wall that I cannot make myself do it. And that is through different therapy and medicines and I'm over able to overcome that. But that's a unique thing to me in my brain that a lot of other people will not understand unless you're neurodivergent yourself. So through technology, I'm able to find community with that, with other pastors like that, there is again, so much information to learn from with just a smartphone, you can learn to code like crazy programs. You can learn to code websites, you can see pictures of stars, you can access tons of translations of scripture. 


Speaker 2 (07:56):

If you pull up the Bible app right now, you can see probably a hundred different translations of the Bible in different languages to, I can pay a company right now if I wanted to, $10,800 to get access to 8,150. And they put a little plus sign different resources specific to the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, which is our tradition. So 8,000 plus books, journals, courses, maps, encyclopedias, translations. I would never be able to read 8,000 books in my lifetime ever, but I could have access to it, which is pretty cool. It also allows us to quickly sort through vast amounts of information, right? Google is a search away. I wrote a very amateur program where I can search any text file on my computer for over 450 words and it does it in less than a second. And in the past you'd have to look for each word individually. 


Speaker 2 (08:46):

Supercomputers are modeling weather patterns, encrypting some of our nation's top nuclear secrets, completing molecular molecular modeling to able to advance research in health and medicine. That's all great. I love that. That's so cool. I love technology and I love the advancement of the James Web telescope that just was launched like last year is mind blowing to me. The amounts of space that we can see fascinating, but there are cons of course. Technology communities that can be built can also move to the extremes. We can move our communities of hate and violence can gather together using technology in rather anonymous ways. And that leads to radicalization, which then leads to violence, which we see all the time. Thanks to technology being able to see the news 24 7. It's also easier to isolate people. I know we're just talking about it's easy to build community, but isolating people is very easy to do on the internet. 


Speaker 2 (09:46):

Cyberbullying is a very real and scary problem, especially for our kids who are bullied oftentimes in secret or in a way that other parents or their parents cannot see because it's all online. The amount of sexual harassment and assault and images that are you can be exposed to on the internet, unwilling and unwanting is very high, especially for our young people. And our young females in our society are dealing with things. Technology has advanced in an awful way. It is easier to have too much information. Herbert Simon stated information consumes the attention of its recipients and the wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. And he said all this before the internet was even created. So even before we had access to thousands and millions and billions of data, bits of data, he says we could have so much information that we have no attention to anything. 


Speaker 2 (10:54):

And technology, though it has made work easier for a lot of people. Automation to make things easier. Oftentimes we free up time in our schedule or on our work. We don't sit back and relax and say, I have an extra hour to do nothing. What do you, you fill it with more stuff that you could be doing instead of resting. And that's on a personal level that we fill up this time with more stuff to do. So how do we respond to all of the technology advances that we are seeing can draw us away from God? Well, we can let technology control us or we can change our relationship with technology. Now I know that seems so simple. Just change. Just change it. It's going to be fine. It's not like companies spend millions and billions of dollars of trying to keep you debited to your phone or to the websites or to the news. 


Speaker 2 (11:47):

We have to change our relationship with technology. There's certain ways you could do that On my phone, on Sundays, I want to be fully present with you all here and in this space. So on my phone, I have it limited so only certain people can get through my notification. So that's like my wife, Jonathan, and maybe three other, four other people in this room. If everybody, anybody else tries to text me or call me on Sunday morning, you're not getting through until after church service. So you can control stuff that way. You can control how you interact in the world. So I, I'd like to be in the social media space because I saw four or five years ago that there are people in our church, not this church, the church I I have served at and other churches around the area of people. I knew the people on social media just being dumb. 


Speaker 2 (12:39):

I don't know how else to say it. They were posting crazy stuff. They were posting mean stuff. They were posting racist stuff and sexist stuff and all this negativity that other people around the community were seeing. They know like, hey, they could post one thing, I'm a part of this church. And the next thing they could talk about how this person doesn't really is less than a human. And so I've dedicated my time as a church social media person to put more positive stuff out into the social media sphere. So that way at least if you're scrolling through every five or 10 minutes, you'll be able to see our church post and you can realize, hey, I actually represent something more than myself. And that's all good and human stuff. But we follow Jesus, right? We are disciples of Jesus. So what does Jesus do? 


Speaker 2 (13:22):

That's what we do. We follow Jesus. The reference is Jesus often uses are agricultural. In the Bible he talks about planting and sewing and harvesting and dead vines and all that stuff is agricultural. And why is that? Well, I think we can fall into the trap that he was talking to mostly farmers. Even though he went to visit cities, we could talk about, oh, they're not as advanced of a society. But I learned this that Jesus's time was pretty advanced. They had aqueducts, which are still standing today. So their technology was pretty advanced. They had aqueducts, they had basic surgery and advanced surgery. They had dental procedures where you could get fillings on your cavities. They had a huge library, one of the greatest centers of knowledge that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore. There were batteries back in Jesus' time, which I did not know. They don't really know what they're used for, but they were batteries. 


Speaker 2 (14:17):

And they even had one of the earliest analog computers existed before Jesus even walked the earth. So these people, the people around Jesus were advanced. He could have used any of these examples. So why did he choose agriculture? Well, I think it's because farming takes time. Farming takes care and attention. And most importantly, intentionality, right? A farmer is going to pick out the best crop to plant in the best place with the best location and the best return on yield because their lives probably literally depended on it. So he chose I think agriculture to slow down, to be present in that space. Also, Jesus often withdraws to be alone away from the hustle and bustle of the people and even his disciples sometimes. And so as I was thinking about that this week, this question popped in my head is when's the last time you just took a walk somewhere and listened? 


Speaker 2 (15:22):

You just walked outside or in a store even and just listened? Not, and I'm talking about not thinking through your head, I need to do this, I need to do that, I need to do this and that and that. But listening to the world around you, it's hard. I don't think we've done it in a long time. When I was a music teacher, one of my favorite assignments, the lessons as a early kid was a listening walk. And that's very simple, a listening walk as you go out and you take a journal and you say, what do you hear? 


Speaker 2 (15:56):

And so it is difficult. I know to do that sometimes Carlene and I took our kids out yesterday to a trail to do a little bit of trail walking because it was Earth Day yesterday. And we just want to be out in nature. And it is not perfect. Our kids are not quiet all the time, and that's okay. But the times that they were quiet, it was beautiful. I could hear birds, I could hear just the wind going, but I could also hear technology. I could hear cars driving by, I could hear police sirens. I could hear all kinds of stuff going around me. Because the other thing that I think distracts us is noise. Like actual noise in our world is overwhelming. We cannot escape it. 


Speaker 2 (16:43):

And noise, all noise is just, I'm going to get a little bit physics here. I was going to say physical, but that's not the right word for physics. Talk about physical sound. All sound is longitudinal waves going through air or any other substance that goes back and forth with a certain frequency that your ears pick up, your eardrums vibrate that turns into electrical signal and your nerves and it goes to your brain and your brain processes it. I think it's fascinating. In fact, I think it's so cool because I am talking right now up here in this space, and most of you are not hearing these sound waves, right? You're hearing the sound that are coming from the speakers. And I think that's cool. I'm talking, I'm producing airwaves, but they're coming to the microphone, which you're hearing then from the speakers. And the reason I point that out is because we amplify our voices in these settings so we could be heard, right? 


Speaker 2 (17:36):

Because there is a baseline of noise in this room, which we're going to hear in just a minute. So we want to be able to, whoever's speaking, to have their voice be heard. And so the cool Jesus analogy I'm getting to is what we choose to amplify is going to take precedence in our life. You could all talk as loud as you want, and I could just go turn up a volume slider and be louder than all of you very easily. So what are we choosing to amplify in our lives will indicate what we are trying to put a priority on in our lives. And then when we get this air pressure, we organize it into different things like languages and music and sound effects and all this cool stuff that we can experience our world with this sense of hearing. 


Speaker 2 (18:22):

And I studied this in college sound. There's a fav, very famous piece of music called Four Minutes and 33 Seconds. I think I've talked about it. But just in case, does anybody know what? Four minutes and 33 seconds by John Cages? Anybody know that piece of music? It's one of the most controversial pieces of music ever written. I'm not kidding about this, because it is a piece of music written for solo piano or any group of instruments, and it is in three movements and it's four minutes and 33 seconds. It's timed out perfectly. And what makes it controversial is that the whole piece of music are rests. And what rests are in music is you don't make a sound. So for four minutes and 33 seconds, whoever is performing this piece sits in silence and doesn't do anything. And people were really, really upset by this. They were really mad about this guy, this new age musician, and what is music? I love those questions. What is his music? And he posited that. Like music is just an organization of sounds right? And music can be any organization of sounds that have intention. That's my definition of music. So the piece of music has a bunch of rests, which in music is a very specific symbol, like I said, that indicates you are not supposed to make any noise. You're supposed to be quiet. Something else is playing and is more important than you. 


Speaker 2 (19:55):

I think that's cool because that requires intentionality and it requires a choice. And it requires uncomfortability in being in the silence. And I fear that in the church. We don't know what it means to be quiet. We have a hard time knowing just to shush everyone in a while. And I think this piece is so cool cause it shows us that this noise is inescapable. The idea is that every performance is different. Every person that performs this piece will move differently in their chair. Every audience that hears this piece will react differently to it. Every space you are in will have different sounds that surrounds you. And so the beauty of it is that there are no two performances of this piece of music that are alike. So for a piece of music that is so controversial and has no sound made by the instrumentalist, it actually is a very profound experience in my opinion that every performance is a little bit different than the one before it. Not for me, that would be very different because I always have something going on in my head. Does anybody here, this is another pole, straw pole. Does anybody have a song constantly playing in their brain? Anybody just never shuts up? I always have songs going on in my head, even in the quietest moments, there is something happening inside my brain that I cannot control. So there's external noise which we can all easily identify, right? We can all hear the music around us, 


Speaker 2 (21:35):

But there's a baseline of noise that's inside my head that I can't stop. And that's okay. I've learned a deal with that. But we have so much noise that we put into our lives constantly that we oftentimes miss the noise that is all the way around us. So we're going to do this listing assignment just for a moment that I talked about earlier. So I just want us all to be quiet and I don't want you to think about anything except the sounds that you hear around you. So I'm going to be quiet for 10 seconds or so. What you can just shout out, what did you guys hear in that silence? Kids 


Speaker 3 (22:23):

Air condition 


Speaker 2 (22:24):

System. Air condition system 


Speaker 3 (22:27):



Speaker 2 (22:28):

Me breathing. That's a good one. I do breathe pretty loud. 


Speaker 3 (22:32):



Speaker 2 (22:33):

Swallow. Did I swallow? Maybe it was you. I heard up here. I heard the flames of the candles burning, right? I heard kids over there. I heard of somebody walking. I heard somebody opening and shutting a door. I heard the air conditioner. I heard a shuffle in their seat. I heard a little clearing of the throat. I heard greater you Lord going on in my head over and over again. 


Speaker 2 (23:00):

Sound is inescapable. We put so much sound in that we miss the baseline of sound that is around us. But I think we do it because it keeps us from being bored, right? It keeps us from being present in the moment because David Foster Wallace says, we flee boredom because of what we encounter there, namely ourselves. To be quiet and to be present with no thoughts in your head is to be alone with yourself. And hopefully, hopefully, God. I have to use sound in my world to silence my brain. I use ural beats, which is you put headphones on and I listen to this nice calming music, but both ears, it goes like this. It goes in my ears back and forth, blah, blah. And eventually after about 10 minutes, it just, that fades away. All the thoughts in my brain go away and I can focus on whatever I have to write. 


Speaker 2 (23:53):

So whenever I'm writing a sermon, even I put on binaural beats and I listen to this the whole time until it's nothing but silence and calmness in my brain. We have to be quiet in. We have to be quiet because God is in the quiet. So if we look at one kings, we're talking about Elijah and starts with chapter 19, verse 11, then the Lord said, go out and stand in the mountain in the presence of the Lord. For the Lord is about to pass. By then the great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came, a gentle whisper. 


Speaker 2 (24:42):

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mountain of the cave. Then a voice said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah? God was not in the grandeur the crazy. He was in the quietest voice that passed by. And hearing that voice, we have to, we can train. That's a bad word. We can practice hearing God's voice. We do that by spending time in scripture. We do that by spending time in community with other Christian believers. We do that by spending time in prayer. And all of this takes intentionality. We can't just hear. We just can't be like, that's God's voice. And then be like, okay, I heard it once. I'm good to go. Right? We have to hear over and over and over again. It's like a carpenter or a somebody. A handyman can knock on a wall, a drywall and hear that that's a stud and that's not a stud. 


Speaker 2 (25:31):

Or a mechanic can drive down the road and hear all kinds of crazy sounds in your car that you never noticed and say, you got about $4,000 worth of car fixes you have to do. Or it could be like, if I'm playing guitar and I strumm six strings at once, I can tell that one of them is out of tune with the other five. It takes repeated exposure over and over and over again. So the more that we do something, the more time we spend with God, the more that in the middle of the technological and noisy chaos of the world, we will still be able to recognize God's voice and we practice it over and over and over again. So here's your challenge, priest Samuel Wells, he's an Anglican priest, says, if a small electronical device owns you, begin the day with the sacred time of refraining for it. 


Speaker 2 (26:16):

We have a whole week, we have a, or sorry, begin the day with the sacred time of refraining for it. Have a whole day a week without being at its behest. Identify conversations and moments. It never is allowed to interrupt. Three other options you can choose for your challenge this week is refuse to pull out your phone when you are standing in line. Okay? Do not drive with your phone and reach, which we all know you're not looking at your phone, but we know we come to stop lights and some of you pull out your phone and check stuff, and I'm saying you all, but I know it's me. So keep track. And then three, keep track of how often you stare at screens when children, your spouse or friends are in the room. If you have an iPhone, you can tell how much you spend each day looking at your phone, how many times you pick it up, and what apps you're looking at specifically. 


Speaker 2 (27:01):

So as you move into this next part, being part of being instill and being in the apprentice of God is coming before God with prayer. This week, like Jonathan said, is special because we set a time for people to come and be anointed by the elders of the church. And as that's instructed in the book of James, if you're sick, Kurt, worried, anxious, you come and put those before the elders and they will anoint you with oil. And it's not for us to have the magical power, but it's to recognize the presence of God that is already present here and to be in the moments of grace. So we have a prayer of confession we're going to go into next, and then we're going to say the Lord's Prayer, and then we're going to take communion. All of these are recognition of God's grace. When we confess, confess, we rely on God's grace to forgive us. 


Speaker 2 (27:54):

When we say the Lord's prayer, it is a desire to speak to the Lord, to speak to God that is pleasing. And when we come to the table for communion, we recognize God's sacrifice at the cross and rely on God's grace to cover us and set us free from the bondage and effects of sin. So we're going to say our prayer of confession, which will be on the screen. Again, you are invited to say this, if it's not something that's comfortable for you yet, you can just listen to the words around you and then we'll move right into the Lord's prayer and then we'll start to take community together. So join me in this prayer, merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you, but what our blessed savior has done for us. Do not consider what we have made of ourselves, but what He is making for us. 


Speaker 2 (28:42):

You are God. Oh, that Christ may be wisdom and righteousness. Sanctification every redemption to everyone of our souls. May his precious blood may cleanse us from all our sins. And your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls. May he crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth. And Christ's name we pray. Amen. And now join me in saying the prayer that Jesus himself taught His disciples, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from evil. For th is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.