Have we “caught the vision splendid”?

We have caught the vision splendid
Of a world which is to be,
When the pardoning love of Jesus
Freely flows from sea to sea,
When all men from strife and anger,
Greed and selfishness are free,
When the nations live together
In sweet peace and harmony.

(SA Songbook #833)

I sit in front of a screen a lot. I work in front of two of them. I go home and work, play, communicate in front of another one or two of them. I still watch TV from time to time. I’m not a big gamer, but I do enjoy a good game of Wii Sports or Guitar Hero. That’s a lot of visual, digital processing for my brain to handle in your average week.

Recently I have been pondering the draw to things digital and virtual. I’m confident that there are many papers written on the implications of our gazing into screens, including the addictive nature. I know I’ve proven it so in my own life, and in seems to be backed up with a lot of ammunition in the world around me.

In this recent pondering, I am particularly taken with the idea of the visual and “vision”. There was one time long ago that I remember playing real-life (actual cards!) solitaire SO MUCH that I actually dreamed about where to place the Jack. Such intense concentration maybe? Sure… but I also just plain played too much. However, I can recount a multitude of digitally influenced dreams and visions. Anything from dreaming about my programming assignments in university, to playing enough Guitar Hero (or any other video game) that I can close my eyes hours later and still see the fretboard with the notes coming at me. Sometimes not even needing to close my eyes….

Like I said, I am not a gamer. I have to choose not to be. I have too many already existing digital habits and addictions to cope with — I don’t need another one. But consider how much of the western population is taken with gaming. There’s some fun stuff, and a great deal of questionable and objectionable stuff… let’s just say I’m glad that my post-video game visions are of notes coming at me or bowling balls going down the alley and not wars and variations on the theme of depravity and iniquity. There is also a widely accepted demographic that makes up the majority of the gaming community – generally speaking, it is comprised of young males.

Joel 2:28 (KJV) reads:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

I wonder what visions our young men are seeing? What dreams our old men are dreaming? What foundation sons and daughters have to prophesy on?

It got me to thinking, we sing “Be Thou my Vision”. We quote the passage from Joel that this prophecy comes from, and many of us hope that it belongs to us here and now. But I can’t help but wonder if what we are doing and allowing into our sight is blocking our ability to view visions – whether visions of God or from God. If our minds are so filled up with visions of things we shouldn’t be watching on the small or silver screens, if our minds are so over-actively engaged and distracted with video games even after we’re done playing them, if our view is less than clear… then mustn’t that indicate something about what we are absorbing in the natural life? The possible spiritual implications of all our digital and visual bombardment in the modern day should be a concern, if not outright alarming.

I have no answers beyond that which I know is true: anything that I am choosing in my daily life which deafens, blinds, or removes me from what God has for me is a choice that needs to be re-made.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all