Almost impossible to describe what we saw today as we took a small group of people from Cornerstone into Dadeville, AL. We didn’t know what to expect when we got there and most of the area was closed off, but the houses the police directed us to were way beyond needing trees cleaned up or anything like that, they just needed help finding their personal belongings so they could leave the area. It wasn’t partial damage where we were, it was complete destruction. The homeowners were more than gracious for having just lost everything and then having total strangers walking around their property. I tried to document what we saw as best I could while respecting the owners of the property. I spoke with each owner before taking any shots of course and they were more than accommodating to our group. To see the entire gallery from today visit Alabama Storm Damage April 2011.
This week was one that won’t be forgotten any time soon in the state of Alabama, especially not in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham or Dadeville, but I think in many ways the storms took so us by surprise. At the moment there are at least 320 people dead from all the related storms and tornadoes and the news just seems to just keep coming even days after the storms have passed. It took about 24-48 hours for people around here to even realize what had happened but the videos from Tuscaloosa and Birmingham are just incredible. The Big Picture has a few images from the storm at Tornadoes kill over 200, and they are bound to have more soon. Some of those photo really are worth at least a thousand words.
I am reminded that even among all the damage, the flowers still blooms, the plants still grown, and God is in charge, even if we like to think we really are. A man at a gas station tonight was showing me photos of his cousins mobile home that took a direct hit from a tornado in Dadeville and there was nothing but an empty spot on the ground with a mailbox. He made the remark to me that “what would have taken months to clear by bulldozer a storm did in 30 seconds”. Yes, the power of man is no match for the power of nature.
I took these shots today on my iPhone as I walked around our property. While we did have a tree or two go down we were basically untouched by any of the storm damage and wild flowers were blooming and corn was growing in the fields. Such an amazing contrast for just 30-40 miles away from here. Our church is taking a collection up on Sunday to deliver to Tuscaloosa, if you are in the Auburn area and would like more information please visit Tornado // Disaster // Relief. All of the photos above were taken with my iPhone today except for the one of the rain, which was taken the day all the storms hit as we were driving back from Columbus, GA. I almost didn’t make it this Friday but with 90 minutes left in the day, this is my Friday Feet post. Have a good weekend everyone.
Maybe its photography over the past 20 years that has made me over sensitive to our cultural demands for productivity, which in turn has given way to our two worst developed habits in search of better productivity, multi-tasking and skimming text. I am probably the worst at putting aside distractions but photography is one of those art forms that takes time, sometimes, a lot of time, and has helped me immensely over the years. Photography takes time just sitting there doing nothing, waiting, waiting on the right moment (hunters will appreciate this too). This one shot of the bird above took me at least an hour to capture last night, and it wasn’t a multitasking hour, it was a setup and wait hour, something almost unheard of anymore outside of photography, hunting, and maybe a few other tasks like actual Christian meditation or prayer.
I am trying to walk (not run) my way through Tim Challies new book, “The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion” where he talks about these very issues. In one section on learning to live without distractions (because we live in a world of constant and continuous distractions) Challies points out that when we turn to the bible we see very little demand for constant productivity, especially in ways we measure today. What we do see is a constant effort by Jesus to slow the pace of life, making time for meditation, prayer, and communion with the Father and His friends. Challies puts it like this:
What is unique in our time is that skimming has now become the dominant form of reading… The danger for Christians is apparent. If we grow so accustomed to skimming words, to passing quickly over texts, we will eventually impose this practice on the words of God… The danger today, in an era of skimming and fragmentation, is that we will fragment the Bible into small bits and have no time or ability to craft unity from the parts.
Being Productive is Not Our Higher Calling in Life
Productivity is one of those things that came out of our big factories decades ago, something that has never diminished, and has only gotten more and more intense as the years go by. Brought on by an insatiable need for being productive (in anything) we multitask and skim. In fact, if you have actually read this far, you are a rare breed among readers today. Most of us just skim text, especially text on the Internet, in approximately 2-3 seconds, and then move on.
According to Challies research, when we “multitask” we really aren’t multitasking as much as we are just jumping from task to task, paying little attention to either. In fact his research showed that it takes us 50% longer to complete each task than if we had done the one task and then moved on, and when we have completed each task the overall quality was greatly reduced as well. It forces us to give partial attention to the task or person right in front of us.
We Can No Longer Give People Our Full Attention
One of the most annoying traits I run across today is that very few people are actually capable of giving me their full attention. I rarely have a conversation with someone without them constantly looking at their cell phone, checking their email, sending text messages, or whatever. Face to face may be more rare today, but even when we do give someone our time, we don’t get but a part of that person in return. I will often just stop talking and wait for them to finish what they are doing, but many times the person won’t notice at all (something Deborah has done to me for years as well).
The point to all this is that, at least in part, is that we as Christians are in a faith that requires us to learn. And one of God’s biggest chosen methods is text, completed paragraphs of thought, made into full letters and books. Thoughts that flow from one book to another and are all connected from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible isn’t full of bullet points, it’s full of completed thoughts. The more we multitask, the more we demand productivity, the less ability we have to sit and read full blocks of text.
It’s like a drug. The less we sit in one place working on one single task, whether that’s reading, photography, or work, without regards to productivity, the less we can. Over two years ago I wrote a blog post called The Internet is The Church’s New Drug of Choice and it’s quite fascinating to see how much father down the road of distraction, multitasking, and skimming text, we have come in only two years.
Thoughts About the Constant Search for Productivity
Because I know for a fact that almost no one is going to read the above 775 words, I give you the bulleted version. In case you didn’t guess by now, I am far less concerned with the productivity factor in life than I am in developing a history of quality. I personally want to be able to do a few things well, never a lot of things in a mediocre fashion.
Photography has been one of those grounding things for me, because it takes time to perfect. There are no shortcuts to learning how to be a good photographer, it takes time no matter what equipment you buy (even if it’s a cell phone). As the time I spent shooting went down in 2009 and 2010 I had forgotten the value of time spent doing just one task at a time, until I got to this point. Since then I have taken more shots (spent more time) in the first 4 months of 2011 than I did all last year, and it’s a good reminder that productivity isn’t the most important thing in life.
- Productivity is not what we are called to achieve in life
- Multitasking is just doing several things at once, poorly
- Multitasking leads us to ignore people standing in front of us
- Skimming leads us away from thinking and ultimately knowledge
- Skimming text is detrimental to our ability to read completed thoughts
- The bible rarely calls us to hurry up and be more productive
- The bible is not a book we can skim, we have to actually read it
- There is a difference between taking your time and being lazy
- The more we live a distracted life the more we need it
- Embrace tasks that can only be done by themselves
There you have it, my ten bullet point thoughts from this post. Better stop now, 1,138 words is certainly WAY longer than any successful blog post is supposed to be, next time I’ll try to shoot for the standard 250 words… but don’t count on it.
When we turn to the bible we see very little demand for constant productivity, especially in ways we measure today. What we do see is a constant effort by Jesus to slow the pace of life, making time for meditation, prayer, and communion with the Father and His friends.
via in part from The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion