Thursday, December 18, 2014

Naked Notification

Photo Credit: Boise Tech Mall
I was babysitting eleven kids a few weekends ago at a hotel. Every child was under the age of 11, and all of them were well versed on how to use technology. They knew how to work smart phones better than I did. They just assumed that the hotel TV had On Demand movies recorded already. They had no idea what I meant when I explained that the TV only had basic cable. Even the one-year-old knew how to turn the iPad on with the button and a swipe of her little finger.

Technology has been pretty helpful in my own life. I remember plenty of times being lost while studying abroad in Europe. When in Paris, we were able to use my Smartphone to find the best viewing spot of the Eiffel Tower.  Or when at the Head and the Heart concert (that happens to be one of my best friend’s favorite bands) the option to record a song was a wonderful way to include her in the memory. Also, being able to connect with family and friends overseas has been a blessing!

But at what cost?

The social media world seems to be finding convenient ways to help us all stay plugged in and connected. We have Instagram, where we can take and edit pictures so people only see the best side of us. We have Snapchat, so that others can view our stories through images. We have Twitter and Facebook, where we share all the great things about ourselves. And many more Apps and websites are available to draw people closer to the amazing details of our lives.

We are now supposedly more connected with each other than ever before. We thrive on the amount of followers we have and the amount of likes we get for each update or photo we post. I would venture to say that instead of technology connecting us, the reality is… We are losing the ability to connect with others. Beyond all the ways we share with our “friends,” we actually end up feeling isolated, instead of feeling more connected.

As part of my job, I talk with teens about chastity and the beauty of God’s plan for our sexuality, but as you can imagine there is some down time when we can talk with the teachers as well. This past week I was able to talk with one teacher on this subject of technology and social media. She has been a teacher for many years and has noticed a very interesting shift in her students’ behavior. She said her students’ attention spans have decreased since technology has become more and more “at our fingertips.” She even noticed her students need more review in order for them to retain any information. They have little desire to remember anything because they have the ability to ask Siri or look it up on Google.

In college, I studied the Catholic faith and how to pass it on. During one class on youth ministry my professor predicted that in the future he has a concern that teens won’t ask, “Who is Jesus?” but rather, “What is a relationship?”  At this point, here is our dance with technology.  With all the ways we seem closer through our Apps, we are missing out on the truest form of intimacy we all crave by establishing REAL relationships.

Plugging into our digital lives more and more could cause us to forget how to form an actual relationship with another human person face-to-face. What a scary thought. If one day, people can’t form relationships they will be unable to find authentic love. Our hearts long for authentic love and the fleeting attention we receive by the number of likes in our media will not fulfill our desire for this love.

The solution? Silence. 

All the technology in the palm of our hands has caused a growing problem. We don’t like silence. We can’t just be still anymore. We fear the silence. Maybe we want to avoid the truth that we would have to face if we allowed ourselves to reflect inward on the longing of our hearts. This might sound extreme but we are numbing ourselves to reality. Avoiding the unpleasantness, loneliness, sufferings, anxiety, boredom, we use the noise or the notifications to fill the false need instead of the real need of being wanted and loved. 
Photo Credit: Nashua College 
 Silence creates the room for us to hear God. For me this was not an immediate thing I woke up and did. It takes practice. We must begin to discipline and train ourselves. The more we grow in prayer, the more natural it will begin to feel to rest in the stillness. The most important relationship we need to grow in is our relationship with Jesus Christ and silent prayer time is a great starting place. As we become more rooted in Christ we can more fully shed the things of this world. Letting go of the earthly things “connecting” us gives us the freedom to give our lives and connect our hearts to God. So I pose this question to you:

           Is logging into your technology logging you out of true intimacy? 

Friday, October 3, 2014

DJ's Introduction

I would like to take a moment to formerly introduce myself to the PCE community. My name is D.J. Hueneman and I am honored to join such a dedicated staff here at PCE.  I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Cincinnati and attended Elder High School. I went on to earn degrees in Secondary Education and Paramedical Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. I currently hold an Ohio teaching license and Ohio paramedic certification. I enjoy speaking with young people about God and have had the privilege of leading several retreats. This has been an exceptionally exciting start to the school year as my wife and I await the birth of our first child.

The call to ministry came later in my life after pursuing several other careers. I have worked as a paramedic, firefighter, and science teacher for several years before arriving at Pregnancy Center East. My previous job experiences gave me a direct look at lives devastated by poverty and broken homes. I’ve noticed that many young people have a distorted view of love, and there are few options offering God’s view of love.  I am excited for the opportunities I will have to spread the word of God to young people with PCE. Kelly and I had an amazing opportunity to speak to 147 High School students about True Love and the Dangers of Pornography at the beginning of the school year. This was a unique assembly style talk we hope to continue in addition to our In Control and Theology of the Body classes. Kelly and I continue to work hard finding new and exciting ways to reach our students.

Chloe's Introduction

My name is Chloe Morrill and I am happy to introduce myself as Pregnancy Center East’s newest Chastity Educator. I hail from a little town named Fruitland, Missouri, which is located an hour and a half south of Saint Louis. I earned bachelor degrees in Theology and Catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Most of my family lives in Missouri, but as my mom says, “Although Cincinnati is far from Missouri, you will love working in the pro-life movement.”

I was involved with the middle school and women’s ministries at Franciscan University, which deepened my understanding and love for the dignity of the human person. I have been blessed to speak with women, men, and teens about the truth of their respective identities as sons and daughters of God. I have walked with many as their lives have been transformed by the Lord. These moments took my breath away and gave me a desire to work in a faith filled environment upon graduation. I hoped to work in a ministry that upholds this dignity and fights on the front lines of the pro-life movement.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered Pregnancy Center East! During the summer I helped teach the Theology of the Body for Teens summer classes while training to present our chastity programming in 22 elementary schools, 4 high schools, and 7 parishes here in my new home, the beautiful city of Cincinnati. I look forward to the opportunity to tell many more young people how wonderfully they have been made in His image and help them discover the beauty of the Catholic faith through Chastity Education.

So far, this journey has been an adventure of humble growth. I have two degrees and a little experience under my belt, but I am so excited about all the things I am going to learn as we continue through the school year. I have big shoes to fill, and the opportunity is a great honor. I am diving in with all that I am to serve the Lord and the members of the Pregnancy Center East family. Please pray for me!