Bishops: Give up your iPod for Lent
Church leaders in the U.K. believe something of a technology fast will save the planet, as well as our souls.
If there is, indeed, a second life, I'm still not sure I would want to come back as a bishop. It's not merely that I don't look good in a long skirt. It's the difficulty of the job.
Somehow, you have to try to influence people who have long ago sailed down the Material River, as if their first port of call will be Nirvana.
However, this seems not to have stopped the bishops of the Church of England from suggesting that, now that we are in the ashen 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, you should, for these few weeks, give up on Nirvana. And the Cowboy Junkies. And Jay-Z. And any other musical accompaniment with which you normally plug your ears.
The bishops have found a very material argument for this highly spiritual sacrifice. According to the Telegraph, they are suggesting that you go on a technology fast to save the rotting planet, as well as your equally putrid soul.
Indeed, the whole project is called the Carbon Fast and its motto is phrased in serious tones: "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) What does the Lord require of you?"
Hark, too, the herald of doom that is the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Rev John Pritchard: "Giving up technology is a more serious way of looking at the issues that face us as a global community. It is a statement [of solidarity] with a world that does not have that ability to communicate the way we can and a reminder to us that perhaps we may have got beyond ourselves in terms of our own consumption of technology."
I know there will be some who believe the Church has gotten beyond itself in terms of its all-encompassing remit. But this plea, which initially asks that you should give up your iPod, TV, and other electronic forms of Valium for just one day and see how it feels, is at least of the real world.
The only slight discomfort I have is that every time Lent comes around, religious leaders want us to give up something different. Two years ago, for example, Irish bishops tried to get their fellow countrypeople to give up Guinness. Which seemed, at the time, to be like asking a runner to give up, well, legs.
However, I have heard a rumor, which I have failed to substantiate, that there exists a piece of research suggesting that the Irish would now rather give up alcohol than Twitter.
There is still hope for the world's health, you see (physical health, if not mental).