Briercrest Blog

Richard Foster on the triviality of productivity apps

David Miller
Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism
    Posted: Jan 14, 2016
 

I have been making my way through Richard Foster's classic Celebration of DisciplineOur library only has a copy of the original 1978 edition, so a lot of the illustrations are now rather quaint in their datedness. The advice is solid, however.


On the discipline of simplicity:

"[R]efuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry. Timesaving devices almost never save time. ... Most gadgets are built to break down and wear out and so complicate our lives rather than enhance them. ... Propagandists try to convince us that because the newest model of this or that has a new feature (trinket?) we must sell the old one and buy the new one. Sewing machines have new stitches, tape recorders have new buttons, encyclopedias have new indexes. Such media dogma needs to be carefully scrutinized. Often 'new' features are only a way of inducing us to buy what we do not need. Probably that refrigerator will serve us quite well for the rest of our lives even without the automatic ice maker and rainbow colors." (80)

 On a related note, Foster advises this antidote to triviality:

"Four times a year withdraw for three to four hours for the purpose of reorienting your life goals. This can easily be done in one evening. Stay late at your office or do it at home or find a quiet corner in a public library. Reevaluate your goals and objectives in life. What do you want to have accomplished one year from now? Ten years from now? Our tendency is highly to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and highly underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years." (94).


Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).