“But what do we mean by the American Revolution?

“What do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revollution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” – John Adams

 

Here is the heart of the Revolution::

The Boston Massacre, known as the Incident on King Street by the British,[2] was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers shot and killed several people while under attack by a mob. The incident was heavily publicized by leading Patriots, such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, to encourage rebellion against the British authorities.[3][4][5]British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were subjected to verbal threats and repeatedly hit by clubs, stones and snowballs. They fired into the crowd, without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident.

The crowd eventually dispersed after Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but the crowd re-formed the next day, prompting the withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. Defended by lawyer and future American president John Adams, six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The men found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand. Depictions, reports, and propaganda about the event, notably the colored engraving produced by Paul Revere (shown at top-right), further heightened tensions throughout the Thirteen Colonies.

 

The American John Adams was the lawyer for the British soldiers. He argued the case in light of the facts, appealed to the exoneration, and won. In the same vein, he argued the independence of the United States from Britain. The reveolution was the arguing and exaltation of the truth of the dignity of the human person. That was the American Revolution.

 

 

 

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The 4th of July 2018

Chesterton wrote: “The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence: perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are created equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that heir authority if for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived… The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.” (Chesterton,  “What is America?” in  What I saw in America 41).

The American Creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. …………….

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

JOHN HANCOCK, President —- Names of Signers

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Gordon s. Wood “the Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787:” An Experiment in Christian Personalism

     [The transition from  individual living unto self to person out of self, and the consciousness accruing to that – a likeness to God]

 

Gordon s. Wood “the Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787:” An Experiment in Christian Personalism

       “The American Revolution was not a common event,” John Adams wrote to the newspaper editor Hezekiah Niles in 1818. “Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe.” Adams then inquired: “But what do we mean by the American Revolution?” For Adams, the revolution was not just the Revolutionary War. The war had accelerated the revolution, to be sure, and the
break with Britain enabled it to develop more freely. But the revolution itself
involved a change in thought—new ideas about who “the people” were, how they
interacted with each other and how they related to their government. “This
radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the
people,” Adams claimed, “was the real American Revolution.”

How did that radical change occur? By what means had the people of thirteen separate colonies come together “in the same principles in theory and the same system of action”? …

The most obvious change involved the elimination of monarchy and the establishment of a republic, which turned dependent subjects into independent citizens.

May I (blogger) add: They emerged from being rational individuals (animals) to
self-transcending persons as God is Person, and this because of seeking the
freedom to worship God as He was calling them to, and pursuing a life of work
and prayer for 150 years on this land. It was this inner experience of
self-transcendence in the immanence of the created world that drove
them.

                Gordon Wood wrote: “The American Revolution has always seemed to be an extraordinary kind of revolution, and no more so than to the Revolutionaries themselves… Because it did not seem to have  been a usual revolution, the sources of its force and it momentum appeared strangely unaccountable. ‘In other revolutions, the sword has been drawn by the arm of offended freedom, under an oppression that threatened the vital powers of society.’ But this seemed hardly true of the American Revolution. There was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer ande less burdened with the cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had t here been so much rebellion with so ‘little real cause.’ It was, wrote Peter Oliver, ‘the most wanton and unnatural rebellion that ever existed.’  The Americans’ response was out of all proportion to the stimuli…As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists’ intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured ‘an actual grievance,’ the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. ‘They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in very tainted breeze.’ The crucial question in the colonists’ minds, wrote John Dickinson in 1768, was ‘not, what evil has actually attended particular measures – but, what evil, in the nature of things, is likely to attend them.’ Because ‘nations , in general, are not apt to think until they feel… therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.’ But not the Americans, as the Abbe Ranal observed. They were an ‘enlightened people’ who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt.” (Edmund Burke: “Speech on Moving His Resolution for Conciliation with the Colonies,’ Mar. 22, 1775.

The American Revolution was the emergence of the Christian man as a self-determining freedom in accordance with his being the image and likeness of God. This was the prototypical emergence of man as “other Christ”  in the political, social and (to be) economic order.  (Blogger)

Dinged by the Nomenclature, “Conservative/Liberal”

Richard Rohr: “Please don’t begin with some notion of abstract being and then say, Okay, we found out through Jesus that such a being is love.”

No, Trinitarian revelation says start  with the loving  and this is the new definition of being! There is now a hidden faithfulness at the heart of the universe. Everything is now positioned to transform all of our lead into gold, the final direction of history is inevitable directed toward resurrection as Alpha  becomes Omega, as .Bonaventure and Teilhard de Chardn would put it.” (Richard Rohr “The Divine Dance” 66)

 

I am doing now what I should not do. I am besieged by a recurrent insight and I am failing to get deeper into my Breviary before I get lost in writing this. So,  let me write down in my waywardness what I have seen so clearly – before I get on to the more important business.

In the intellectual formation of all of us, conservatism means truth, structure, substance, principles, deductive coherence, obedience, dogma, and usually described as stiff, stogey, old, stark, brittle, unyielding, cranky… And let me return to the default idea: Truth .And liberalism connotes the new, supple, dynamic, pliable, inventive, flowing… And almost always: Love. I put this down because there is all kinds of talk right now about big changes on the occasion of Justice Kennedy stepping down and there is a sense of large attitude change.

What wells up in me is the opposite state of my head. Ever since I read Ratzinger’s theological description of person in the Trinity, The deepest part of my mental world was turned up side down. Instead of being and then action as accident grounded in it, now it is action becoming being.  When he described The Father as not the Father-individual engendering the Son, but The Father-Action engendering the Son, I immediately saw the meaning of “Being” was not to be an individual “substance” as “thing-in-itself,” but the pure Action of engendering Son. It simply disappeared as something that could inhabit the world that I could not help but assume as “real.” And yet I knew that it had to be the “really real” but not according to the way I know anything else. And I also knew that, since Christ revealed the Trinitarian Persons as Creator, then. I had to see the world differently than I see it through my eyes and conceptualize it with my mind.  I was in for a revolution.

And since divine Person is Truth, and divine person of the Father is an action-process of engendering Son, then everything I take to be true in the everyday quotidian 24/7 must have the underpinning of action-process. At the deepest level, I am out of the world of Greek forms and essences and corresponding concepts as abstractions of them. Which have been the world of “the conservative.” Conservative has been the conformity of free action with truth, and truth has been the abstraction of the essences of sensible things, which when put together and judged as conforming to the perceived sensible reality, is true. Principles and laws are taken from this theoretical knowing and is the grounding of what we understand and call the conservative world-order.

Take now the most primitive and highest order of reality to be the Trinity of (what we call “Persons”) Persons that are Actions of relation as Father, Son and Spirit that compenetrate One Another such that One cannot be without the Other[1] (No, Father, no Son; no Son, no Father) and yet they are distinct but not as Individuals.[2] And it is important now to be clear. The Son is the Word of the Father, and as such is the Revelation of the Father. The Father cannot be known – if like is known by like – by anything created. Nothing is more unlike than being and nothing, or Creator and created if Creator is the source of being. And so, “no one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.”[3] Which gets some clarification from Matt. 11, 27: “No one knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son reveals Him.” So we can only know the one true God by knowing the God-man, Jesus Christ.

I come up for air. My initial intent was to extol liberalism in the key that it must be extolled in. And this because I only the truth of the Truth by being “liberal,” i.e. getting out of myself, and this because God is out of Himsef. And like is known by like, and that is true because knowing is a dimension of “being” the other. If you don’t “become” the other, you don’t know him. You know about him from a distance, but that is “knowing about.” And so, this God Who is through and through relationality – which we give the word “love” – is through and through “liberal” I can only know the truth of loving by loving. And so. the deepest truth of reality is by being liberal

And while I’m at it. Consider that at the center of the created world is God Himself as Man. The center is Jesus Christ, God-man. That is consider that what you see of the world is the physical world that is an extension of the humanity of Christ. Robert Barron has written wonderfully here in his “Priority of Christ.” The keynote is Colossians 1, 15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible… he, who the first born from the dead, that in all things he may have the first place. For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things…” This means that the humanity of Christ is the meaning of all material creation. And that humanity – since the settled faith of the Church is that there is one divine Person and two natures – is dynamized by the one Person of the divine Son. This means that the protagonist of every human action – from the greatest to the least, is action of the “I” of the Son. When it is recorded that Christ said, let’s go, or I will come, or whatever, it is the Creating Personality of the Second Person Who is doing this insignificant earthly action. It is divine-human, or “theandric” as they Hellenize it. And this relation of the two natures in the one divine Person, make all the conundra like divine/human, faith/reason, grace/nature resolvable in terms of person.

Let me try to flesh out these examples a bit:  1) grace/nature ceases to be an insoluble conundrum of the dogmatic text when we understand that “grace” is divine Love and “nature” is person. It is passing from a “conservative” abstraction to existential dynamic of the affirmation of persons (as the Father affirms and engenders the Son). See anywhere on this blog the posts on formation or affirmation of persons. Psychologically affirmation by another is necessary for the engendering of the “I” precisely because of the imaging of the Son by the human person. Grace/nature is not an insoluble duo unless you take them in abstraction, and then we call it insoluble and therefore a “mystery.” But it is a mystery as the Trinity is mystery yet ground of the whole theological  enterprise.

2) faith/reason: instead of both being two intellectual accidents of a substance. As a personal and relational act faith becomes personal obedience to the Word of God Who is the Person of JEsus Christ. Faith does give reason “information.” As an act of the whole self in obedience to Christ as the revelation of the Father, the intellectual content of “faith” is the very person of the believer-become Christ. The believer becomes “another Christ” because faith is a conversion of the self away from the self to become the Christ as Revelation of the Father. As the Father is totally out of Himself, so also is the Son out of Himself. The believer to know them must be out of himself or herself in order for like to be known by like.

3) Instead of an objectified, abstract (non-living) dualism of Church/State, the believer enters human society as more person than the non-believer since he must be a person, a burgeoning gift of self  both in work, in family life, in service to the society, in relation to the others. The believing person is not reducible to the individual, since the democratic society needs a deep, almost co-natural sense of giftedness and cannot survive  with a society of Adam Smith’s “enlightened self interest.” The democratic society thrives on the community of persons living supernatural live sustained by the Church. Without Christ, no person; no person, no society; no society, no democracy. The democracy of truth, law and order is based on the liberalism of Christian self-gift.

 

[1] “I and the Father are one” [Jn. 10, 30]

[2] “The Father is greater than I” [Jn. 14, 28]

[3] Jn. 1, 18.

The Incarnation Is Not Finished; And With It, C0-Redemption

Paschal Mystery Co-Redemption

“Compassion continues the Incarnation by allowing the Word of God to take root within us, to be enfleshed in us. The Incarnation is not finished; it is not yet complete for it is to be completed in us.”[1]

Christ is always being reborn and so is continually going to the Cross for the salvation of others.

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church (Colossians 1:24).

 

Within the charism of founding Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva understood that all the baptized and ordained are called to be “other Christs.”  “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me” (Acts 9, 4)? Obviously, Christ identified the church of Damascus with His very Person.

If that is the case, then the incarnation of God is not complete yet, and neither is Christ’s redemptive act since all are continually being born in the sin of Adam and need redemption. And if the redemptive act is the self-gift of the obedience to the Father and compassion on others, then mercy and compassion continue the incarnation. By having mercy, Christ is being continually reborn.

 

Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

What do they have in common? Living Faith! What did it consist in? Death to self! Not just martyrdom but conversion away from self. Simon became Peter by entering into the prayer of Christ to the Father which is Who He is. “The Son as Son, and in so far as he is Son, does not proceed in any way from himself and so is completely one with the Father. Since he is nothing beside him, claims on special position of his own confronts the Father with nothing belonging only to him, retains no room for his own individuality, therefore he is completely equal to the Father. The logic is compelling; if there is nothing in which he is just he, no kind of fenced-off private ground, then he coincides with the Father, is ‘one’ with. It is precisely this totality of interplay that the word ‘Son’ aims at expressing. To John ‘Son’ means being-from-another; thus with this word he defines the being of this man as being from another and for others, as a being that is completely open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere ‘I.’”[1]  This conversion away from self so as to be “for “the Father and “for” others is the meaning of faith. It is not “a mere revision of a few opinions or attitudes. It is a death event. … It is the replacement of the subject – of the ‘I.’ The ‘I’ ceases to be independent and to be a subject existing in itself. It is torn from itself and inserted into a new subject. The ‘I’ does not perish, but must let itself diminish completely, in effect, in order to be received within a larger ‘I’ and, together with that larger ‘I,’ to be conceived anew.”[2] The New Man: another Christ. That’s what it means to be “Rock” as Peter as Christ is Cornerstone.

And in that giving of the self, feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Feed them with that action and attitude of giving themselves away. This is the meaning of faith, and this is the meaning of believer. They both gave themselves away ultimately – Saul becoming Paul on the occasion of the event of encounter with Christ on the road; Simon in the encounter with Christ praying to the Father as only Christ knew how to do[3] – and they both achieved martyrdom which is the icon of who they were.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 134.

[2] J. Ratzinger,  “The Spiritual Basis and Ecclesial Identity of Theology” in The Nature and Mission of Theology´Ignatius (1995) 50-52.

[3] Lk 9, 18 – See Ratzinger’s “Behold the Pierced One,” Thesis 1.

I add Bp Robert Barron:

SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL
MATTHEW 16:13-19
Friends, today’s Gospel spells out the importance of Peter’s confession. For it is upon this inspired confession that the Church is built. Not, mind you, on popular opinion, which is shifting and indecisive, and not on personal holiness, which is all too rare. It is built upon the inspired authority of Peter—and I say, “thank God!”

We make this troubling and extraordinary claim that it is through a special charism of the Spirit that Peter and his successors govern the Church. Now, I realize that I have many Protestant readers and that this text has been, between Catholics and Protestants, a stumbling block. Let me clarify what is and is not at stake here.

What is the focus of Peter’s confession? It has to do with who Jesus is. This is the rock upon which the Church is built. We don’t say for a moment that all of Peter’s practical decisions are right, that everything he says is right. But we are saying that he is right about who Jesus is: a man who is also the Son of the living God. And this is the source and ground of the whole operation.

A brief philosophical and theological reminder of the complaint in the previous post, i.e. that those seeing and looking at a screen have become saturated with viewing a screen and its cyber content. This has left the self without meaning. The document from the Aparecida conference in Brazil in 2007 which was written by Cardinal Bergoglio said:

“… (M)any who study our age have claimed that the overall reality has brought with it a crisis of meaning. They have in mind not the multiple partial meanings that individuals can find in the everyday action s that they perform, but the meaning that gives unity to everything that exists and happens to us in experience, which we believers call the religious sense. This sense usually comes to us through our cultural traditions which provide the framework with which each human being can look at the world in which he or she lives. In our Latin American and Caribbean culture we are familiar with the very noble and guiding role that poplar religiosity has played, especially in Marian devotion, which has helped make us more conscious of our common condition as children of God and of our common dignity in His eyes, despite social or ethnic differences of t hose of any other kind

               However, we must admit that this precious tradition is beginning to erode. Most of the mass media now present us with new, attractive, fantasy-filled images, which, although everyone knows that they cannot show the unifying meaning of all aspects of reality, at least offer the consolation of being transmitted in real time live and direct, and with up to date information. Far from filling the void produced in our consciousness by the lack of unifying sense of life, the information transmitted by the media often only distracts us. Lack of information is only remedied with more information, reinforcing the anxiety of those who feel that they are in a opaque world that they do not understand.” [The Aparecida Document, 2007, #37]

               Let’s go deeper.”Meaning” is the consciousness that one possesses by an experience of oneself. And to experience oneself – not as objective “thing” in the world through the senses – but as “i.” Helen Keller came to a consciousness of herself by the interior act of giving the Braille symbol to “w-a-t-e-r.” It was not that she got the idea of water, since she already had that. What she did was to exercise her “I” and “throw” the symbol at the the liquid something running over her hand. As soon as she “threw” the word at the water, she experiences a liberation from within herself. And she was eager to immediately start throwing symbols, words, at everything she could sense. (She couldn’t see or hear, but she could feel and experience and suffer. She had been trapped). She experienced getting power over the thing by naming it, and that done, she could communicate it to her nurse (Ann Sullivan). And now the person of Helen began to blossom. She could relate in a very different way then before because now it was not brute tactil but knowing, soon to become loving and relating at every level. She began to be person with the meaning of things, life, herself and the others.

               John Paul II explains this in terms of Adam obeying (relating) to the Creator in tilling the gar den and naming the animals. He felt “alone” because he had been transformed in being “for” the Creator as obedient servant, and hence was different from everything else that could not “obey” because it was not “person,” or “I.” And note that the name of God is “Yahweh” – “I AM.” This is what has to be recovered in the present culture.

To Be Constantly Viewing the iPhone, One is Stagnant in the Self – And Now Sick and Cognitively Impaired

By Farhad Manjoo

  • June 27, 2018

Smartphones were once the best thing to happen to the tech industry — and for a while, it seemed, to all of us, too. In the 11 years since the iPhone made its debut, smartphones have subsumed just about every other gadget and altered every business, from news to retail to taxis to television, ultimately reordering everything about how we understand media, politics and reality itself.

But now that smartphones have achieved dominance, revolution is again in the air.

Global smartphone sales are plateauing for a very obvious reason: Pretty much anyone who can afford one already has one, and increasingly there are questions about whether we are using our phones too much and too mindlessly. At Google’s and Apple’s recent developer conferences, executives took the stage to show how much more irresistible they were making our phones. Then each company unveiled something else: Software to help you use your phone a lot less.

There’s a reason tech companies are feeling this tension between making phones better and worrying they are already too addictive. We’ve hit what I call Peak Screen.

For much of the last decade, a technology industry ruled by smartphones has pursued a singular goal of completely conquering our eyes. It has given us phones with ever-bigger screens and phones with unbelievable cameras, not to mention virtual reality goggles and several attempts at camera-glasses.

Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones, and about 11 hours a daylooking at screens of any kind.

So tech giants are building the beginning of something new: a less insistently visual tech world, a digital landscape that relies on voice assistants, headphones, watches and other wearables to take some pressure off our eyes.

This could be a nightmare; we may simply add these new devices to our screen-addled lives. But depending on how these technologies develop, a digital ecosystem that demands less of our eyes could be better for everyone — less immersive, less addictive, more conducive to multitasking, less socially awkward, and perhaps even a salve for our politics and social relations.

Who will bring us this future? Amazon and Google are clearly big players, but don’t discount the company that got us to Peak Screen in the first place. With advances to the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones, Apple is slowly and almost quietly creating an alternative to its phones.

If it works, it could change everything again. As I argue below, there are many ways that screens have become too dominant in our lives. The sooner we find something else, the better.

Screens are vampires

At Apple’s developer conference, the company introduced Screen Time, which helps iPhone users manage the time they spend on their devices.C

Screens are insatiable. At a cognitive level, they are voracious vampires for your attention, and as soon as you look at one, you are basically toast.

There are studies that bear this out. One, by a team led by Adrian Ward, a marketing professor at the University of Texas’ business school, found that the mere presence of a smartphone within glancing distance can significantly reduce your cognitive capacity. Your phone is so irresistible that when you can see it, you cannot help but spend a lot of otherwise valuable mental energy trying to not look at it.

When you do give in, you lose your mind.

“What you get sucked into is not the one thing that caught your attention — your text message or tweet or whatever,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at the technology research firm Creative Strategies. Instead, you unlock your phone and instantly, almost unconsciously, descend into the irresistible splendors of the digital world — emerging 30 minutes later, stupefied and dazed.

“You open this irresistible box, and you can’t fight it,” she said.

Tech companies understand this power, of course; our inability to resist screens explains why phone screens keep getting bigger.

Apple once argued that increasing the iPhone’s screen size would make for a phone that would be too awkward for your hands. “No one’s going to buy that,” Steve Jobs predicted of big-screen phones in 2010.

He was wrong. Rivals, led by Samsung, found that big-screen phones sold very well. The eyes won out over the hands. Eventually Apple joined the party, making iPhones with bigger and then still bigger displays. The largest-screen iPhones now account for half of Apple’s sales and the majority of its profits.

From Tesla to Lego

But screens have now become a crutch for technologists, a lazy, catchall way to add digital experiences to every product.

We have seen this in cars for years. By placing interior controls on touch screens rather than tactile knobs and switches, carmakers have made vehicles much more annoying and dangerous to interact with. The Tesla Model 3, the most anticipated car on the planet, takes this to an absurd level. As several reviewers have lamented, just about every one of the car’s controls — including adjustments for the side mirrors — requires access through a screen.

Or look at augmented reality, the technology that allows you to see digital imagery superimposed on the real world. In a few specific uses — turning your face into a dog’s on Snapchat — this can be fun. But too often, A.R. feels gimmicky. Rather than commingling the digital and the real, it simply uses a screen to usurp the world around you.

At Apple’s developer conference this month, Martin Sanders, a Lego executive, showed off a new A.R. Lego set. When he pointed his iPad at a Lego structure, his screen filled with digital fireworks, superheros, sports cars — a whole bustling Lego town that he didn’t have to build with his hands or imagine with his head.

“There’s so much to do here!” Mr. Sanders exclaimed as he and an assistant stood completely still, staring at animated Legos through a piece of digital glass. It was bizarre. The whole point of Lego is physical interaction, but thanks to A.R., he had turned Lego into just another video game.

The glorious small-screen future

There are two ways we may break our fevered addiction to screens.

First, we will need to try to use our phones more mindfully, which requires a combination of willpower and technology.

Help is on the way. For the last week, I’ve been using Screen Time, one of the new features in Apple’s next version of its mobile operating system. The software gives you valuable information about how much you are using your phone, and it can even block you from using apps that you deem unhealthy. I found Screen Time very well designed, and I suspect it will profoundly change how we use our phones.

But in addition to helping us resist phones, the tech industry will need to come up with other, less immersive ways to interact with digital world. Three technologies may help with this: voice assistants, of which Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are the best, and Apple’s two innovations, AirPods and the Apple Watch.

All of these technologies share a common idea. Without big screens, they are far less immersive than a phone, allowing for quick digital hits: You can buy a movie ticket, add a task to a to-do list, glance at a text message or ask about the weather without going anywhere near your Irresistible Screen of Splendors.

These are all works in progress. Voice assistants still cannot do everything for you, though Google and Amazon have thousands of engineers working to improve them. AirPods are fantastic — they have fewer connection issues than any other wireless headphones — and after years of refinement, the Apple Watch shows you just enough stuff from your phone to make it useful without becoming overbearing.

If Apple could only improve Siri, its own voice assistant, the Watch and AirPods could combine to make something new: a mobile computer that is not tied to a huge screen, that lets you get stuff done on the go without the danger of being sucked in. Imagine if, instead of tapping endlessly on apps, you could just tell your AirPods, “Make me dinner reservations at 7” or “Check with my wife’s calendar to see when we can have a date night this week.”

Apple declined to comment on its plans. There are enough reports, though, that suggest Apple is not blind to such a future. It has plans for improving AirPods, according to Bloomberg, and I’ve been impressed by how steadily the company keeps adding features to the Watch — including the ability, in its latest model, to use it away from your phone.

Apple has never been scared of disrupting its own best inventions. By rethinking screens, it may have a chance to do that once more.

Francis warns cardinals against ‘useless wrangling’ over power. This is for all of us

 

by Joshua J. McElwee

Vatican City – Pope Francis told the world’s Catholic cardinals they must act as servants to the people under their care, admonishing them not to undertake “useless wrangling” about who is more important but to earn their authority by serving those most in need. In a June 28 ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica marking the creation of 14 new cardinals, the pope said, “The only credible form of authority is born of sitting at the feet of others in order to serve.”