Mandeville, LA – WaPo writer Hayley Tsukayama complains that her five digital personal assistants (yes FIVE!) don’t deliver the digital utopia that fast paced TV advertisements promise.
“It should be a breeze for anyone trying to get themselves organized as part of a New Year’s resolution. It should be fantastic. But, if I’m perfectly frank, I’m really no closer to getting anything done.”
I will wager you a Glorious Mystery that Tsukayama is not alone and I’ll even up the ante by furthering wagering that employing 7 “personal digital assistants” wouldn’t “solve” the problem either. Anyone familiar with digital assistants also known as apps, knows that it’s impossible to use the devices without being ordered to “update” or “upgrade”. I don’t employ one of Tsukayama’s “assistants” and yet cannot open the device I am typing this on without being commanded to download something I didn’t ask for. How does it know I need an update!? The bottle of Ardmore Scotch I purchased for New Year’s revelry hasn’t asked me to “update” it and I’m actually quite happy that when it is emptied I will not be scolded to “upgrade” or refill. Maybe next go round I might want to try a Bowmore Scotch? There’s probably an app for that but I don’t have it and I don’t want it.
Must We Surrender Privacy For Assistance?
Tsukayama doesn’t even approach the looming issue of the staggering amount of private data that these personal assistants demand. How is it that we have become inoculated to the invasion of privacy these devices ingest then share with the rest of the planet yet we insist that the 4th Amendment protect us from the NSA doing the same thing? This disconnect from the threat posed by digital invasion grows daily and with it the need for real assistance in the form of aid delivered into the soul from the divine. A personal request the rest of the world and the empire of Jobs need never learn of. This is not to say that I suggest we become Luddites and ditch all the machines, they are not inherently bad but rather deliver a platform for bad much like the printing press delivers to the pornographer after it prints the latest Douay Rhiems.
Maybe We Should Seek Some Divine Assistance
St Francis of Sales was one of the most inspirational writers on the beauty and utility of seeking Divine Assistance in all that he (and we by extension) did. Sale’s biographer and understudy Jean Pierre Camus wrote of an incident St Francis explaining Divine Assistance in a manner that only this great Saint could.
I was speaking on one occasion of the writings of Seneca and of Plutarch, praising them highly and saying that they had been my delight when young, our Blessed Father replied: “After having tasted the manna of the Fathers and Theologians, this is to hanker for the leeks and garlic of Egypt.” When I rejoined that these above mentioned writers furnished me with all that I could desire for instruction in morals, and that Seneca seemed to me more like a christian author than a pagan, he said: “There I differ from you entirely. I consider that no spirit is more absolutely opposed to the spirit of christianity than that of Seneca, and no more dangerous reading for a soul aiming at true piety can be found than his works.”
Being much surprised at this opinion, and asking for an explanation, he went on to say: “This opposition between the two spirits comes from the fact that Seneca would have us look for perfection within ourselves, whereas we must seek it outside ourselves, in God, that is to say, in the grace which God pours into our souls through the Holy Ghost. Not I, but the grace of God with me. By this grace we are what we are. The spirit of Seneca inflates the soul and puffs it up with pride, that of Christianity rejects the knowledge which puffs up in order to embrace the charity which edifies. In short, there is the same difference between the spirit of Seneca and the christian spirit that there is between virtues acquired by us, which are, therefore, dead, and virtues that are infused by God, which are, therefore, living. Indeed, how could this philosopher, being destitute of the true Faith, possess charity? And yet well we know that without charity all acquired virtues are unable to save us.”
This succint little lesson, told in less than 200 words does more to “assist” the fallen (all of us since Adam) than any “digital personal assistant” ever could. But modern man has become convinced that the de Salesian method is from a mystical and useless past. This is pride in its purest form as a raging voice in the secular wasteland we call a culture. I suggest that for a 2016 Resolution, the daily Oblations from St Francis, available here and in printed form here, might be great “personal assistants”; fruits of whose works, will pay dividends far beyond the next “update” google or Apple demands.