Hiding in Plain Sight

In a recent blog, marketing expert Seth Godin made this observation in a piece called, “Lost in a digital world.”  Godin writes:

  • Allison Miller, aged 14, sends and receives 27,000 text messages a month. Hey, that’s only about sixty an hour, every hour she’s awake.
  • Some say that the problem of our age is that continuous partial attention, this never ending non-stop distraction, addles the brain and prevents us from being productive. Not quite.
  • The danger is not distraction, the danger is the ability to hide.
  • Constant inputs and unlimited potential distractions allow us to avoid the lizard, they give the resistance a perfect tool. Everywhere to run, everywhere to hide.
  • The advantage of being cornered with nowhere to turn is that it leaves you face to face with the lizard brain, unable to stall or avoid the real work….
  • Ten years ago, no one was lost in this world. You had to play dungeons and dragons in a storm pipe to do that. Now there are millions and millions of us busy polishing our connections, reaching out, reacting, responding and hiding. What happens to your productivity (and your fear) when you turn it off for a while?

Understandably Godin’s focus is on productivity, but his observations have their application to the spiritual world as well.

Are we distracted?  Yes, I’m convinced that we are.  Who wouldn’t be in a world that moves as quickly as ours does?

But we are also hiding in plain sight.  The variety of distractions and the busyness of our world have given us cover for a failure to focus.  We can run, but we don’t need to hide.  All we need to do is to keep on running.

And because we can take refuge in the demands that colleagues and others have made on our time, there is no end to the number of places that we can run with seemingly good reasons.  The net result can be months on end without focus, that are filled with activity.

  • Is there work that God has called you to do that never gets done?
  • Are there neglected dimensions of your spiritual life that you don’t want to face, but you know require your attention?
  • Are there wounds or failures for which you have never found healing or forgiveness?

There’s no doubt that you are busy.  We all are.  But you might be hiding in plain sight from the work that you really need to do.

Seth’s blog, by the way, can be found at:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/01/lost-in-a-digital-world.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+typepad/sethsmainblog+(Seth’s+Blog)

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, including forty-four entries in Doubleday’s Anchor Bible Dictionary, as well as articles in Feminist Theology and The Scottish Journal of Theology. He is author of A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). His latest work, The Dave Test (Abingdon Press) will appear in the autumn of 2013. He is also the series editor for the new Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study Series.

From 2000-2012, he worked as Director of Spiritual Life and Formation and Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. As one of Perkins’ senior administrators, Dr. Schmidt was responsible for programs in formation, serving over 500 students. He developed the School's program in Spiritual Direction which has thus far served over 150 students from across the country; the program in Anglican and Episcopal studies; and the spiritual formation track in the Doctor of Ministry program. Prior to his arrival at SMU, he served as Canon Educator, Director of Programs in Spirituality and Religious Education, and Acting Program Area Manager at Washington National Cathedral. In this capacity Dr. Schmidt was responsible for the development of a program of religious education and spirituality that annually provided resources for broad-based audiences of over 5000 adults. He also designed and produced workshops and seminars for ecumenical and interfaith constituencies; hosted foreign dignitaries from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union on behalf of the Meridian Institute; and developed the programmatic work and daily operations of the Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. Before going to the Cathedral, Dr. Schmidt served as special assistant to the President and Provost of La Salle University in Philadelphia and as a Fellow of the American Council on Education. From 1994 to 1995, he resided in Jerusalem, where he was Dean of St. George’s College and Residentiary Canon of the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr. He has also served in numerous parishes, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, All Saints Episcopal Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas.

His work in higher education includes service as associate professor of New Testament Studies, as a lecturer in New Testament studies at Oxford University, and as a tutor at Keble College, Oxford. He has been a guest lecturer at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and the Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Dr. Schmidt holds a bachelor’s degree from Asbury College, the Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University. His honors include a Fellowship in administrative leadership with the American Council on Education; a Senior Fellowship with the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research; the Young Scholars Fellowship presented by the Catholic Biblical Association; nomination to Class XI of the Clergy Leadership Project, sponsored by Trinity Church, Wall Street; the Angus Dun Fellowship (Episcopal Diocese of Washington); and an Ecumenical Service Award given by Christian Churches United (an ecumenical organization covering a tri-county area and based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). He is a recipient of the F. W. Dillstone Scholarship awarded by Oriel College, Oxford; the Hall Houghton Studentship awarded by the Theology Faculty of Oxford University; and an Overseas Research Student Award, presented by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom. Dr. Schmidt is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. From 1998 to 2000 he served as a member of the Institutional Review Board for Heart, Lung and Blood Research at the National Institutes of Health and he currently serves on two Data Safety Monitoring Boards for NIH. He is Secretary-Treasurer of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars and a member of the Board of Examining Chaplains for the Episcopal Church, USA.

In addition to his work in the academy and the church Dr. Schmidt currently serves as a patient safety and ethics consultant on Data Safety Monitoring Boards for the National Institutes of Health and Allergan, Inc.

He lives with his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), and Hilda of Whitby, their Gordon Setter.


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