On Giants' Shoulders

Friday, March 06, 2009

What Are You Reading, What Are You Watching?

I spent some time lately reading a collection of Dorothy Days journal entries. One of the things that I came away with as an insight was that she was shaped by what she read. When she was reading devotional literature her attitudes reflected it, when she was reading some other types of things her focus became much more political (and sometimes not in what seemed to me to be healthy ways). I've noticed with other people in my life that what they have been reading doesn't just influence their opinions, it also seems to effect their moods. Same with what they are watching on television or for movies. I've noticed the same thing is true for me. It's far harder to focus on simplicity and not get caught up in the worldly models if I spend my time watching What Not To Wear, for example.

I've noticed as Lent has begun and I've been working harder at at least getting the Office of Readings in every day that what's in the daily reading seems to pop up again in some way later in the day. On Sunday I was amazed again at how the readings for the Office tied in with the readings and the homily at Mass. However, I've also been amazed at these serendipitous (or providential) moments on other days as well when other reading I'm doing, something I'm watching on TV, something I hear on the radio, will also tie in with the reading.

Now, I'm not criticizing non-devotional literature, I'm not even abstaining from non-devotional literature during Lent. I just think that it's important to be aware of what we are putting into our minds, just as we focus on what we are putting into our bodies. We can be aware of this when it comes to things like pornography, but less aware of it when it comes to things that stir up feelings of resentment or discontentment. A lot of what passes for news these days seems more designed to stir up emotions than to truly inform. This is true not only in the secular press. It's also true in blogdom. I think that one thing I want to do this Lent is to take a step back and look at what I read and what I watch effects me. I hope I can look at things with the eyes of the Church instead of being simply formed by the world around me. I hope you can do the same.


At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Abby said...

I totally agree with this one, Mom! and thanks for suggesting the Talbot books on simplicity to both Jim and I - definitely making a real difference in both our Lents.

Also on your next post.. again agree.. hopefully the old fashioned tools of breastfeeding and cloth diapering will work for us....

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Glad you're enjoying the Talbot books. The thing I think they do for me is to help me focus on the riches I have instead of longing for the things I don't. I was reading something at Et Tu the other day that reinforced this. Jen was talking about looking at her grocery list one day (and there was absolutely nothing fancy on it, just things like black beans, butter, etc) and realizing how amazing it was that she had the money to go to the store and buy these things to feed her family, amazing that these things were available in the store. She didn't have to grow the beans or churn the butter, for example. It reminded me all over again of how much we take for granted and how much effort life was for earlier generations. It also reminded me that even when we aren't eating expensive food by American standards that simply the variety of food we have is so much greater than what is available to a large part of the world's population.

I cleaned out the fridges (now there's a statement of wealth right there) and was appalled once again at the amount of stuff that got thrown away (that despite the fact that I've been making a heroic attempt to eat leftovers!). I've actually started occasionally serving leftovers for dinner, along with at least one non-leftover item. I figure that we've got to learn to not be quite so addicted to a different menu every night.

It used to be that both your father and I ate leftovers for lunch (much as you and Jim do now), but somehow we got away from that and the result is that stuff gets thrown away. My goal for the rest of Lent is to use it up. With that in mind tonight we're having smoked herring that Daddy bought weeks ago (the stuff lasts forever!). One less thing will be in the meat drawer tomorrow.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

I agree -- it's so true that everything we "consume" (in all forms) affects us, and it's good to be mindful of that.


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