05/09/2010

The following reflection by Tom Cahill

You hear them in the street, on buses and on trains: mobile phone conversations. They can be annoying; for two reasons at least. First, some users of phones seem to think it necessary to shout into them presumably because of the distance between themselves and those at the other end. Second, you get only a 'halfalogue' one side of the conversation.

Scientists at Cornell University, New York, claim that hearing only one half of a conversation is more draining on one's attention than hearing all of it. They experimented with students who were given concentration exercises while hearing one or two speakers on mobile phones. Their conclusion: people are less able to divert their attention from a half-heard conversation than from a fully heard one.

Half of anything rarely satisfies. It can even be irksome. It's the whole hog or nothing. The same can be said for half-hearted effort. Take today's Gospel reading for example (Luke 14:25-33). It ends on a note that could be sombre, or joyful, depending on the generosity of one's response to it: "None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." What a prospect! You can't follow Jesus half-heartedly. It's total commitment, or no commitment. To put flesh on that, it means there can be no Jesus-free zones in my life; that nothing in life is more important than the values he holds out to me. Therefore, I don't sacrifice these, ever, for anything else. I wonder how many of us get that part of the conversation.
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