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A flickering glow welcomed me to my university’s chapel service. Votive candles? If only. No, these were glowing smartphones, as thick as fireflies on a summer’s evening. It was a scene of tremendous absurdity, like a man watching TV while making love to his wife: distracted people distracting themselves during a sacred act. It struck me as oddly understandable (I even joined them to check my email during the sermon), yet also as the foretaste of some looming spiritual crisis. So much has been written lately about the perils of smartphone use that I’m reluctant to join the chorus. Yet I feel that many Christians—I include myself—have yet to find any healthy forms of resistance to this new cultural habit.


Originally published in the December 6, 2016 edition of First Things

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