Social commentary

We need more silence in our lives

“In modern culture, it almost seems like silence is extinct. We have given noise our consent to fill every moment of life. And it’s not just sonic noise, but even the mental noise that comes from constant entertainment. Through our smartphones, our tablets and our laptops, we always have access to a virtual world that demands our attention. We have created sources of sound and distraction for every situation. As a result, silence has become fantasy, a neverland we choose to not visit. And why bother? To be socially accepted, we must be culturally connected. To be culturally connected, we have to listen to the roar.”

Louis Spivak, Relevant Magazine

Most of what is written on R&R concerns activism – ‘doing stuff’ to make the world a slightly better place. It’s important, but its a mistake to only focus on outward actions – because many of the battles we face are to do with our inward journeys. They go on within us.

There is a lot of noise in our world. And blogs like this add to that noise.

We need to offer resistance to the ways of the world if we are to find renewal. Advent is a great time of year to do this – to slow down and intentionally spend more time in silence and reflection.

Join the Pre-tox

Today marks the start of R&R’s Christmas Pre-tox.  Join us on 24 days of intentional silence, reading and reflection. 15 minutes a day that will be good for your soul.

“All men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally…for he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul.”    Thomas Merton, The Silent Life (1957)

9 thoughts on “We need more silence in our lives”

  1. Thanks for this post, Jon. This is one of my favourite topics and I just had to share (sorry for the length)! I read a book a few years ago by Carl Honore, ‘In Praise of Slow’, which had quite a big impact on me. Where was my impatience and need to constantly be stimulated every minute of the day getting me? Where was my time for reflecting and processing life?

    Honore writes:
    “But now the time has come to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly. Speed is not always the best policy. Evolution works on the principle of survival of the fittest, not the fastest. Remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare. As we hurry through life, cramming more into every hour, we are stretching ourselves to the breaking point.”

    He then goes into say,
    “This book is not a declaration of war against speed. Speed has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating. Who wants to live without the Internet or jet travel? The problem is that our love of speed, our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time, has gone too far; it has turned into an addiction, a kind of idolatry. Even when speed starts to backfire, we invoke the go-faster gospel. Falling behind at work? Get a quicker Internet connection. No time for that novel you got at Christmas? Learn to speed-read. Diet not working? Try liposuction. Too busy to cook? Buy a microwave. And yet some things cannot, should not, be sped up. They take time; they need slowness. When you accelerate things that should not be accelerated, when you forget how to slow down, there is a price to pay.”

    I’m not a particularly busy person, but this is still a daily challenge for me. I have found that by slowing down I appear a lot less stressed out than others in the queue at TESCO :-). I’ve also ditched my smartphone with the aim of removing some of those constant distractions. Part of my journey in taking the time to enjoy the good things in life.


  2. Super line from Frazier on TV last week:
    Time is only the concern of one creation on earth: Man.
    Today, be a sunflower!

    On the your comment about silence, church services are also far too much speaking and not enough time in quiet listening to God.


    1. Thanks Jon – yes I was reading a Henri Nouwen article about how unpopular silence is among many congregations – how relieved people are when the sounds resume – it is interesting. As you know I am a chatter-box so I am finding being silent hard but important!


  3. Like the previous contributors, really appreciate the post.

    We can be so busy, even doing things for God, that we miss out by not just being in His presence and enjoying the moment.

    By not being still, we run the risk of not doing what He wants because we have not taken time out to listen to Him.


  4. “Be still and know that I am God”, is a scripture that I’ve read and has been given to be mutilple times. Now that I am mainly housebound due to chronic illness I have more time to act on that scripture😉.
    I think to be be still at this time of year is probably impossible for most people, but escaping noise for just a few minutes and ‘breathing’ would be a good start.
    Personally, I think it’s taken God along time for me to slow down and now I have no choice. At times it gets me down, but on the most part I am starting to appreciate my new way of living (although it would be nice to go on a long walk).
    Like Eugene above, one bonus from living more slowly is that those long queues are not so frustrating anymore!


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