“The Pastor’s Word” is a monthly letter from our pastor, which also appears in our Newsletter, the Quill. Much further down this page you will also find MP3 audio files of sermons from our worship service each week.

How to Kill God

Recently at worship I offered an invitation to the congregation—one suggested by Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine in his wonderful essay, “I Used to be a Human Being.”  Join me, I said, in taking a “digital sabbath” of 30 minutes once in the next week.  Turn off your smartphones.  Stop checking your text messages.  Just be.

I tried following my suggestion later that day, and I have to tell you that I failed—miserably.  For the entire 30 minutes I sat on my porch without my phone, thinking of all the things I had to do.  I became increasingly anxious, my mind racing from task to task.

My failure to sit still was not, however, a total loss.  It reminded me how much I have become a digital junkie, “conformed”—as Paul says—“to the world” (Romans 12:2).  I am merely an extension of the culture around me, a culture, as Sullivan observes, “of getting things done.”

Without exaggeration, I have to confess: I am not free.  I am not the person I want to be, nor am I the person I believe God, whose will in Jesus Christ is “abundant life” (John 10:10), calls me to be.

The effect of living in a noisy, obsessively busy culture constantly in the grip of “getting things done” extends far beyond my personal discontent.  It is the demise of faith.  Sullivan writes, “The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.”

Sullivan’s observation is not new.  Over a century ago, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity’s fiercest critic, recognized that neither reason nor science, at least exclusively, “killed” God (i.e., contributed to the loss of faith in the modern era).  The almighty died instead of neglect as modern Europeans—too busy, too industrious, too distracted—had no time to cultivate a relationship with the divine.  Rediscovering God, it turns out, begins with slowing down, taking time to recharge our spiritual instincts.

It’s true: I failed at taking a digital sabbath, but I am going to try again.  My life is far richer when I connect with God in the “tiny cracks of inactivity,” as Sullivan calls them, that separate one task from the next.  I invite you to do the same.  Perhaps together, if your experience resonates with mine, God, the deep Silence beneath all the noise, may be “heard” once more.

Pastor Dan Peterson

Pastor Dan Peterson
Queen Anne Lutheran Church