The Parable of the Man Who Left the Internet

May 6, 2013

paul_1020_2Have you heard the parable of the man who left the internet for a year?

Well, it’s not a fable, it’s true.  Paul Miller’s offline year just ended.  It’s a fascinating and delightfully human story about a man with high expectations of finding out how the internet is corrupting his soul, killing his body, wasting his life.

And sure, the first few weeks sounds amazing, filled with reading books and outdoor exercise and personal enrichment.  But there’s a reason New Year’s resolutions rarely last.

I actually think you should go read Paul’s story for yourself (which is why this is a short post).  But before you do, consider this.  Paul’s story has nothing to do with faith, but I think it is a parable for those of us trying to walk a spiritual path.

Much of my life, I have spent trying to be more holy, more righteous, just a better person.  I have attempted this by buying into various systems, steps or rules to accomplish this: Don’t do this!  Don’t look at that!  Don’t go there!

And you know what?  Paul Miller discovered what everyone discovers (if we are honest with ourselves.)

That it doesn’t matter what external regulation we obey, what shackles we place on ourselves, how many rules we follow or how “religious” we are.  We are still the same people inside with the same problems.  A few months ago, I wrote about why drinking, gambling, guns and porn are not problems.  Paul Miller proves my point exactly.  Paul discovered that the internet was not his problem.  His problem was Paul Miller.  Paul Miller was killing himself, not the internet.

Have you ever blamed external factors for your problems?  What did you find out by trying to follow a bunch of rules?

5 responses to The Parable of the Man Who Left the Internet

  1. Interesting article. It sounds like he got as far as unplugging, but then didn’t know what to do with his time, so he just wasted it. Several years ago, for Lent, I “fasted” recreational computer use. It freed up a frightening amount of time (a revelation). The key was to use that time, perhaps to accomplish something, pray, meditate.

    Regarding your commentary: Rules and lists of do’s and don’ts are training wheels while we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, develop self-control, and submit to the Lord’s authority over our lives. If legalism worked, Jesus would never have had to go to the cross.
    Leslie recently posted..Sharing the Perfect Life

  2. Matt, thanks for posting this. I hadn’t heard this story before – it’s pretty fascinating.
    Kent Sanders recently posted..#007: Creating & Launching a New Product with Derek Olsen [Podcast]

    • Super fascinating story. And I agree with you that I am the problem, as you put it. And yet sometimes with my faith, I wonder what exactly replaces the rules, what replaces the don’ts and shouldn’ts. I know the answer is _Jesus_, but practically, on a day to day basis, this sometimes seems less clear to me.
      I’m (lately) seing that when I do the work of finding things that bring me joy and fullness–passionate things, connecting things, I find God’s Spirit there. Not “good” things or the “right” things.
      Where do you find that indwelling, that non-legalism that is Christianity? How do you make the answer “Jesus” look real every day?
      Heather Caliri recently posted..One Woman’s Yes: Patricia Zaballos of Wonderfarm

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