Onion Skins April’17


Marion and I have just got back from Christchurch catching up with family and friends. Christchurch is quite a confusing city to visit these days……so it was time for Pete to check out his new smart phone and its direction instructions. Having a somewhat retro car we did not have one of those fancy screens on the dash, and we had also left the Christchurch map at home……talk about being organised!


The interesting thing about this technology was its “rigidity”. It certainly got us there but I felt really uncomfortable as I couldn’t get the “bigger picture”. After two days I gave up and simply used Google maps without the strident voice coming out of my phone telling me to “sort myself out”….and then giving up on me if I did not follow instructions. Marion was better than me at not following instructions [what’s new?!] but she knew where she was going much more than I did! What a wonderful thing to see Google not coping. For me it was a release to the real world and the infernal machine was consigned to the glove box to talk to itself.


What has this to do with anything? A lot really. It has a lot to do with our autonomy, and our sense of direction not only in relation to the map but in our lives as well. This sort of “logical thinking” with a device, seemed to take away our personal adventuring, our searching, and our ability to live with the tension of “not knowing”.


I have been reading a controversial book entitled “Mind Change” by a Susan Greenfield, a Professor of Pharmacology and neuroscientist talking about the challenges facing us with the advent of the internet, smart phones  and all the multiplicity of devices that go with them. She surmises that we are entering a new age where there are fewer questions than there used to be but lots of answers, whereas in the past there were lots of questions but few answers. Her thesis is that we are collectively losing our ability to think and quotes a guy called Mencken who has said, “ For every complex answer today there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong”!


“So what” you say, and where is there an “onion skin” in all this.....? I think there is and many of us are caught up in this “head long traffic” of life and are very familiar with that feeling of “lostness” and wondering where to next. There are many who may think they have it sussed and will tell us what we need to do, and this might include a hand held GPS……but I suspect it is the exact opposite. We need to peel the onion a lot more.


The reality is that we need to stop, and listen for the still small voice which is beyond all this complexity. We will find that He is standing beside us in the silence, despite all the traffic of life around us. He is the one who is our companion on the most important journey of all, our own lives. Our Lord is our “Anam Cara”, our soul friend for this the most important of adventures.


Perhaps Psalm 5 verses 1 & 2 say it all…..”listen to my words, Lord, and hear my sighs. Listen to my cry for help. I pray to you O Lord, you hear my voice in the morning, at sunrise I offer my prayer and wait for your answer”.


God Bless you all.

Pete Strang