SOME of television’s most compelling shows start up again this month — and thank heaven for that. “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife” and “Girls” will happily draw viewers — like me — back into their characters and their plot-heavy story lines. There is a reason for our attraction to these shows other than that they simply entertain us. “Downton” and today’s other quality television series also promise a welcome escape from a muddled, technology-addled existence. 

By pulling us away from Twitter, texts, e-mails, pointless videos and all the other technological distractions demanding attention, “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” provide a coherent (albeit sometimes disturbing) refuge from our fragmented lives. I, for one, find a sense of narrative order, however fleeting, from these shows.
A book I just took out from the library (still one of my favorite haunts) notes:
One of the worst consequences (of our current culture) is that Christians have succeeded in being of the world, but not in it. (Chet Myers) With impoverished discernment, we turn wisdom and foolishness upside-down.  Messages of crud stupidity and vigilante justice are praised while humility and faith are ridiculed... Sometimes I think our whole culture has Restless Fly Disorder. We buzz around constantly and we can't seem to land anywhere for long.  With all the available diversions, we flit. We can't stay on task. Or maybe we act more like an air-hockey puck, bouncing noisily off the walls... a counterpoint to this scatter shot behavior is the discipline of attentiveness... one of the quieter virtues.
(Gregory Spencer, Awakening the Quieter Virtues)
A novel my son-in-law, Michael, gave me for Christmas, Boualem Sansal's brilliant The German Mujahid (the first Arab novel to confront the Holocaust) contains this description:
Airports are the anthills of the third millennium, high-surveillance hubs with their business hotels like glass prisons, the hidden loudspeakers spouting counter-fatwas born in the bellies of all-powerful computers.
And then Parker Palmer quoting a Mary Oliver poem on Facebook:

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Do I detect a theme?  Is something being said to me over and over again in different forms?  Am I listening, Lord?