#77 - Living a life of love in a distracted world with Andy Crouch

July 9, 2024
Andy Crouch

Episode Summary

How can we cultivate presence and deepen relationships in a world that constantly pulls at our attention? Join Joey Odom in this enlightening conversation with bestselling author Andy Crouch, who shares his hard-won wisdom on navigating technology with intention to live a life rich in love. Drawing from his extensive background in divinity and his tenure at Christianity Today, Andy provides invaluable insights from his influential books, including The Tech-Wise Family and The Life We're Looking For. He also brings personal experiences of parenting in the digital age into the discussion, offering deep philosophical perspectives on leading a meaningful life amid today's digital distractions. From the complexities of AI isolation to the essential role of love and emotional maturity, this episode explores the delicate balance between embracing technology and maintaining human connections. You'll leave with thought-provoking perspectives and practical steps to reclaim your humanity in this distracted age.

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Episode Transcript

Joey Odom  0:03  

Gang from the man who brought us the life we're looking for. Welcome to the interview we're looking for. Our guest is a classically trained Cornelliene, a Back Bay divinity master and accomplished ivory tickler in a soothing serenader. He is strong and weak. He's a culture maker. He never plays God and he wants to make your family tech wise. He likes his tea daily, his Sabbath weekly, his Lent annually and his regeneration quarterly. He's an author who writes legibly but strives to make himself illegible. He's a reader who's read all the Bill Burroughs from Jeffrey to Baggins. He works with his hands playing Bach doing his beloved taxes or making mug after mug, after mug of English breakfast tea. Yes, milk, no sugar. He's brilliant, though. He's anywhere from the second to fourth smartest person in his family of physicists, authors and biologists. You've read him Lecrae is wrapped about him and you're about to hear from him. If he were in early 2000s martial arts action adventure film, he'd be Crouching Andy Hidden Genius. And if he were on a podcast today, it would be the Aro Podcast. Ladies and gentlemen, snap on your helmets, put on your bibs, click in your heels and get your gears and wheels turning with our guide on the course today Mr. Andy Crouch.

Andy Crouch  1:20  

Oh, Joey, I feel slightly stalked. How do you know? 

Joey Odom  1:28  

Well, you should you shouldn't, and you shouldn't feel that way. You should feel fully stocked. Because you've been fully stocked.

Andy Crouch  1:35  

I don't even know how, like who you who you paid for all this information.

Joey Odom  1:41  

Well, I think good and bad. So here's the good news and bad news. The good news. Well, the bad news is this is widely known and accepted about Yeah, man even knew how you'd like your tea. And I will say that was from your sweet daughter, Amy, who I emailed with for a few nights. 

Andy Crouch  1:58  

I am sitting here with English breakfast tea with milk right at this moment, my fourth cup of the day. Yes. She said

Joey Odom  2:06  

So Amy and she said it's nonstop she said You also and we I want to hear about this. Is it you love doing your taxes? Is this true?

Andy Crouch  2:14  

 One of my favorite seasons is tax season.

Joey Odom  2:17  

Can you explain that a little bit.

Andy Crouch  2:21  

So much in my life is never done and finished and you don't know when it is done. Whether you did it well enough and taxes you know, like you get it all the numbers add up and you send it in and it's done. I just it's like the one area of my life where I have some measure of finality. That's fantastic.

Joey Odom  2:41  

By the way, do you remember reading a book by Jeffrey Bilbo? Do you Do you remember there was a there was an old Instagram post, I had to search out a book a stack of books, you'd read it and it said Jeffrey Bill said okay, I got to play Lord of the Rings there.

Andy Crouch  2:56  

Yes. So in fact, his name is Bill bro with. Yes, I'm sorry. I hate to mess up. Great line in the intro. He's a wonderful thinker about our world. And yes, he's got a couple of great books. So yes,

Joey Odom  3:10  

Do you think Samwise Gamgee ever called Bilbo Bilborough just when they were kind of thrown out.

Andy Crouch  3:20  

JRR, Tolkien would just be rolling in his grave if you were.

Joey Odom  3:29  

And it's so good to see you. We I've told you this before when we've been together. But so much of what we do is on your shoulders is from the work that you have done in from I mean, 2017 was when the tech wise family came out. And so you've been talking about technology. You've been talking about how it's affecting our humaneness and things we can do about it. And we are this really is I mean, we said we said it's funny. I always find that it never happened original thought and I said once I said oh yeah, we need to put tech in its in its proper place. And they're like, Yeah, you read that from Andy Crouch that like he said that like long before you and I said oh, yeah, that's right. I did read that book. So but you just were we're so grateful for for the voice. You've been on a large scale of voice you've been individually to us as a company business, but we're just we're kind of on your shoulders trying to try to carry on what you've been doing. So I that's a statement I won't even make you respond to. But I would like to know how did you before everybody knew what this or had a feeling of what this was really doing to us when it comes to our technology? What was kind of that initial spark that said, hey, this doesn't some didn't feel right here.

Andy Crouch  4:41  

Oh, yes, the initial spark was I got married. And you know, I technology is my first love specifically like computers coding. I. When I was in fourth grade, my parents realized Just I was a little bored. And my, my dad had this idea to introduce me to computers. And this is before the personal computer, I'm old, and I'm 56 years old. This is in the 1970s. He was teaching at a university, they had a mainframe computer, probably no one knows what these are anymore. But he took me out of school one day a week to go just tag along with him to the university. He wasn't teaching computer science, he was in another department, but he dropped me off at the computer center where they kept their computer computer for the university. And I learned to program back then, and so this way, if you'd asked me when I was like, 12 years old, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was like, I'll be a computer programmer. So I've loved technology. All along. I, I still love it. I still learned I just learned Python a couple years ago, that which is a coding language that's used a lot now, because I kind of like keeping up with, at least at some level, what's happening in the development world. But I did get married to a physicist, by the way, Katherine's an experimental physician works with, in a sense technology every day in our lab and teaches science and math and, but she's, she's a human being also, and, and

Joey Odom  6:15  

That's a great, that is a great trait in trading the wife, by the way, of all, I mean, gosh,

Andy Crouch  6:22  

I'm so grateful to have found one may get more of a rare actually. And, you know, as we're, I mean, I vividly remember, I think, our second year of marriage, I got a new Mac, and, and I was so excited about this. And I was just spending too much time with it, honestly. And my wife called me on it. And this began a long, ongoing negotiation of her saying, you know, I want you present in my life. And then when we had kids, Timothy and Amy, in, in our kids lives. And so, you know, the sort of secret of the tech wise family is most of the insights in it came from my wife, and in some ways, my own children, not maybe the children so directly, but indirectly kind of communicating to me, Dad, this is something's not working here. And painfully learning over time, some different practices, which by the time we got to their teenage years, we had made a bunch of intentional choices that we hadn't actually seen a lot of other people making. And so then my friend, David Kinnaman, asked me to write this little book, I thought, Well, I think we've we have learned some things, but honestly, it's mostly things I learned from my wife. And from being a parent. It did not originate with me. I just was the one who wrote it down.

Joey Odom  7:49  

Which is, I didn't I didn't know that version of the story. And it did that is that is shocking, because of how I would say how disciplined you are. And I think that's the case, but more maybe how structural you are and how you've structured, you've structured things that that maybe leave the discipline that don't require discipline. I mean, there's some discipline involved. And maybe you've set up some kind of structures around that, you know, James clear, says that environment stronger than willpower. So you've said, that requires less willpower, but I didn't know that it came from Oh, yeah, I'm so compelled by this thing. These things, that that's what it needs. Do you remember what it was? When you got a when you got a smartphone at first? Did you? How old? Were you kids that you already have those? Did you already have those practices in place where you had a good kind of a good balance with it?

Andy Crouch  8:38  

No. I mean, the one advantage of the really early smartphones was they didn't do that much. But once the App Store was released, and all that stuff. Yeah, I would say we I you know, it's interesting. We have a no phones and bedrooms, policy and it but I'll tell you a secret, Catherine often charges her phone in our bedroom. And the reason it doesn't matter is she simply is not dependent on it. And the way many of us get to be it like literally she never opens it up. She's never lying in bed next to me looking at it. Like it's just where it charges. So, but I I would say we made a bunch of mistakes. I mean, and then in parenting we we got our son, an iPod Touch, which was like basically the iPhone without the telecom part. But that's like, exactly the opposite of what you're sent to. It's not the telephone. And I mean, I should say we but it was sort of my decision. I was like, Oh, this would be good for Timothy who was like in fifth grade. And gosh, we had to walk a bunch of things back and change a bunch of practices. So we stumbled our way through the early iPhone smartphone era, like, like most people did, honestly. Yeah.

Joey Odom  9:59  

Which I hope Everybody takes comfort in and you're here hearing you're hearing, like Mr. Mr. Miyagi saying that he couldn't do you know, martial arts at one point, you know what I mean? So this this, this?

Andy Crouch  10:10  

Oh, listen, this is I mean, for everybody, I think we really have to understand how well, this is maybe a strong word, but how insidious these things are. And partly by design and partly completely unintentionally, I do not think Steve Jobs ever intended. Many, many of the most important consequences of the iPhone, I know that, oh, goodness, I'm blanking on his name, the designer, the Tony Fidel, who was the principal designer, and went on to design a bunch of other cool things. I know he didn't, because he's talked about it publicly. He's like, he said, at one point in an interview, I sometimes wake up in cold sweats at night, wondering what did we bring into the world? In print, he was particularly talking about it in the context of raising kids. So all of us, you know, not only have stumbled our way through this early era, but but have had to reckon with kind of an extraordinary amount of power. That really we didn't see coming. And we just thought about the convenience and kind of the magic of it and the delight of it. So yeah, no, I'd be very surprised. I mean, other than, I don't know, there are probably some people who are prepared, like armed. You know, pre forewarned is forearmed. And they were but we weren't. Right.

Joey Odom  11:28  

It's one thing I love, I was thinking about, I was talking about the tech wise family and this thing about the life we're looking for. And I love the order that those books came out in because it felt in some ways, like the tech wise family was almost like, Hey, here's some triage. Like, I know you're drowning, like I know you're a No Your leg is bleeding out, like we got to like we got to put the tourniquet on, like, let me help you with some things, right. And then it's almost like with the life we're looking for, it's like you took it, you took a step back, and you started talking about and I just love this, and I want you to unpack it for us, you talked about what it meant, what it means to be a person, it kind of gets more to like the, to me, it's almost like it's almost like a song like you just like you can get to the beauty of why all this is important. We talk about that and just then just sing to us a little bit on what it means to viewtiful voice but what it means to be a person.

Andy Crouch  12:23  

Yeah, that kind of starting point for the book, though, if we're looking for came out of I was trying to sort of identify what's the core problem. And one way of putting the core problem is, is with a question, how did we become the most powerful people in history, like in almost any measure of like being able to get done what you want in the world because of technology? We're more powerful than kings were, you know, 1000 years ago, or 200 years ago? How do we become the most powerful people in history? And at the same time, the most lonely, anxious and depressed people? Like, what? And then that that crystallized for me into this question, why is it so hard to be a person and in this modern world? So what is a person? Well, that's, that's one of those questions that sort of sounds easy, and you know, when you see it, but it's really actually it gets a little tricky to define. And there's a lot of philosophers who tried to find it, I read a lot of them and try to absorb but but I have come back to a very central idea from the Christian tradition, which is, well, really the Jewish tradition, reaffirmed by Jesus and handed on to the Christian tradition, which is the most central text of Jewish life. Hero, Israel, the LORD your God, Lord is one Lord alone. And then it says, You shall love the Lord your God. And here's how Jesus renders it at least with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And and love your neighbors yourself, Jesus adds, and in and he's, he's summing that up and in answer to the question, what's the greatest commandment, like, what's the highest thing and most important thing we can aspire to as human beings in a way. And he along along the way, in answering that, I think it gives us a clue to who we really are. And the way I put it is where we are heart, soul, mind, strength complexes designed for love. So we have these different components or dimensions that you can't really separate, which is why I like this word complex, like you think of like a, like hospital complex is a whole bunch of buildings, they're all kind of connected, you can sit you can name them separately, but they really all function together. And that's what it is to be a human being. It's to have heart which is kind of emotion and will in the Hebrew understanding. It's to have soul which is depth of self, I guess, or the ability to connect deeply to others and to God. Mind the ability to actually rationally reflect on the world and form kind of conceptual understanding of the world and then strength, the bodily kind of constitution we have that allows us to move in the world. And all of those like, are woven together and why it is to be human and then designed for love. We are we are designed at our best to love God, if you at least take that tradition seriously that there is a God to love who loves us and learn to love other people. And I actually think for all the amazing things about technology, like no one would say it is designed to help us be heart soul mind strength complex is designed for love. Like that's just not the mandate. Like, it may be the mind. You know, Steve Jobs said it's a bicycle for the mind, the computer is a bicycle for the mind. And that's a beautiful image. And I think it would be a lovely thing, if that's what computers actually were. But even if they were fully that, what about heart? Like, how does this help my emote? My How did? How does technology helped me develop emotional maturity? Like depth of heart, our soul? Does this is it any of this design to to increase my depth of soul, I just don't think anyone is like attempting that even. And then obviously, one of the biggest effects of the computer revolution is the diminishing of strength. So that we all have to go to CrossFit now to like recover what normal human beings for all of history have done with their bodies, which is low, find loads and carry things and move through the world. So the technology is just and then it none of it is designed to make it better, easier for us to love. Like, that's just not, that's not the agenda. So does that make sense?

Joey Odom  16:51  

It makes perfect I had not considered even as you were describing the strength part, I was thinking about kind of like, you know, grit and resilience, you're actually talking actual physical, physical strength, and that our phones have replaced our need to do that in everyday life and our technology, I suppose. But like technology has that. So I never thought of it along those lines.

Andy Crouch  17:13  

Yeah, and also how many jobs now are done sitting in front of a screen, you know, so that you just you spend the day like losing agility and strength. And then you have to go try to recapture it. Right

Joey Odom  17:25  

now in this is this May, this May. And I know you're you're not averse to doing this? It's maybe a philosophical question. And it may be so self evident that it's not even worth answering. But, but when you say we're designed for love, I'm curious how you would be how you would define what a life of love or the expressions of love what is what is that? What does that look like to Andy Crouch? Goodness. This surface level question.

Andy Crouch  17:54  

Yeah. I mean, I suppose it's to be so attentive to another, that what is good for them becomes, in some ways more important to you than what's good for yourself, although I think maybe it's more, what's good for them becomes the good for yourself, you know, so you're, and there are different paths into this, you know, the Greek language and CS Lewis picked up on this really interestingly, in a book called The Four loves there's, there's different pathways to that level of attention, there's friendship. So just because we have kind of an affinity, I start to pay attention to you. And often with friendship, you discover we already kind of love the same things. And then I, I appreciate you and love you and care for you, because of our shared love for something. And there's arrows, you know, which is like the attraction, we get erotic from it. But more generally, like attraction that we can feel, especially in romantic relationships, where you just become so overwhelmed with who this person is, you're like, I'll do anything for you. But then there's this other deeper love in the Christian tradition, that the Christian tradition picks up this Greek word agape, that really is not French, it isn't primarily friendship is not primarily romance, it's simply be holding another human being and saying, because you are a human being I, I'm paying attention to you, I care for you. And what's good for you becomes good for me. Or is the good I'm seeking. And we can have that toward God, perhaps as well. So yeah, that's the best I can do. on short notice, a definition of love.

Joey Odom  19:33  

I mean, it was I was, I was visualizing what I was visualizing. I started with like, oh, I want to do that well, or and I do, but it's more like, I want to and hear me out here. It's like, I want to receive that kind of love, like How good's the crap feel? And I think like, Who wouldn't want the end result of that? is think about all the impediments in the way that you think about like all the things that get in the way way of that, and let's just set technology aside. Just our humaneness and our, our self seeking and all the tendencies that we have towards. Because our basic need is personal survival. Of course, like there are things right of that. And then we insert this thing that is constantly vying for our attention. And so how? I mean, it's that seems insurmountable, right? How on earth could anybody live a life of love defined the way that you just define that?

Andy Crouch  20:27  

Well, especially with these devices, interposed that amplify the attention to the self, because what am I attending to? I mean, in a, I don't know, if it's an oversimplification to say I'm either paying attention to you or I'm paying attention to me. Or more generally, I'm paying attention to the kind of outward environment for its own sake, I'm contemplating you, and the world I'm in, or I'm kind of turned inward, right. And I'm kind of curved in on myself and focusing on myself. Well, the thing about these personal devices, is that they are exquisitely designed that they themselves are paying incredible attention to me, or my smartphone is paying attention to me in a way that no human being has ever paid attention, like with a depth with an unblinking, like any social media app that I drop into its algorithm like, is ceaselessly observing, not not me at my best, necessarily, but it's definitely picking up all kinds of data about what does Andy care about what matters most to him? What will make him feel significant? What will keep them engaged, right? And it's better at that than any human being could be. Because it's sort of unwavering and its attention, and then it feeds that back in a loop. And when I've got this device that will pay that much attention to me and knows me so well and there and is serving up things, even without the algorithms like you know, the notifications that are coming in, theoretically, I don't know why Walmart keeps sending notifications, I do not care about you, Walmart or your five day sale or whatever. But mostly, they're things I've indicated, I'm interested in, right? Yeah. So it's feeding me back to myself. And when that's between me and you, or if that's like a an alternate screen, an alternate point of attention to you. Gosh, it's I mean, as you say, even before we had these things, this was the basic human dilemma that I would like to be a person of love. But I'm constantly kind of interrupted with my own self interest. And I also have self preoccupation. But now we have an external thing to pay attention to that just absolutely, like doubles, triples down on that self hurt, curving and on the self, that

Joey Odom  22:36  

line you said, feeding me back to myself, where were the algorithm is your your being is just in this, just this such this loop. And I don't know about you, I don't want, I don't want more of me, reinforcing me that I have plenty. I have plenty of me telling me, give me a bad feedback loop.

Andy Crouch  22:54  

Well, and I got this from my daughter, Amy, my kids have made in there, they're in their 20s. Now they've made very, very radical choices. They're on social media, far less than I am. And one of the things my daughter said, she said, I just will not be on a social network that is algorithm driven, like, like most of them are, of course, she says, because the algorithm does not catch you at your best, it catches you at your, I don't know always worse, but your most impulsive, your most immediate. It's, you know, it would be one thing if somehow these technologies were actually paying attention to like, what is Andy absolutely is best and reinforcing that. But there would be no money in no way. Whereas there's a lot of money in mobilizing outrage, mobilizing lust, mobilizing greed, like you name the list of things that I impulsively give myself to, even before I've thought about it, it picks up that I'm, you know, I'm lingering, like, I mean, they measure even if you just pause on a on a screen, like you don't even click on the thing. But he's like, Oh, that's kind of interesting, you know, appealing. And, and even if you're a better judgment takes over, like, one second later. And you're like, oh, no, no, no, I'm moving on from that. It already saw. Oh, my gosh, how can we possibly compete with this?

Joey Odom  24:17  

And by the way, it's important for the listener, this is what you're describing is absolutely true. You can they know exactly where you pause, and they're there or you can look them up. And And again, these are not these are not always used for nefarious purposes, right? I mean, these are things that are seeing like, okay, like this area of our website, people are confused on because they seem to linger here more. And so people can you can see how people are using and interacting with what you're presenting to them. But there are and again, I was talking with our Oros Chief Technology Officer, Brandon Smith the other day and he was talking he's brilliant. He was talking to all that AI in the future. And he was talking about this future where the TV shows you will watch are fully customized to you. And when I say fully customized customized. I mean, you're the only person who will watch stat because it will be aI generated, it'll be instantaneous, best based on what's interesting to you, it will be so customized to you. So you're only getting these things. And to your point, kind of like, almost you can imagine just kind of caving into yourself, right, where it's only you that it's experiencing that singular experience. And so just by putting people out on an island and and by the way, that sounds awesome. Like, that sounds really cool, right? But it does, you've been that unintended consequences, it's pushing us out to just even more isolation.

Andy Crouch  25:31  

Yeah, Indeed, indeed. I mean, I have thought about this scenario for entertainment, like the fully customized entertainment and I, I wonder what's going to happen? Because you know, one of the things that entertainment currently does, although it doesn't a lot less now than it used to is bind us to other people. It gives us something to talk about, did you see that episode? Did you see that movie? But increasingly, you're going to see a movie, no one else saw it? Because it will increasingly if we crossed this threshold, you will Yeah. And then what do you talk with your neighbor about like, well, in my version of, you know, the Lord of the Rings, it's such it's such a habit, you're cut off from common experience. So it's just one more interposition of attention. Yeah, that just is a mirror. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, obviously, one of the most prophetic TV shows about this was called Black Mirror. And it's partly I think the power of that name, is all this is a mirror, but it's like the worst possible mirror. Or, and again, I think what you said is very important. It's not just with with exceptions. It's not it's not a special purpose, like lust machine or greed machine or outrage machine. It's just a general purpose, what makes Andy stay focused on this machine, and that it just then whatever my thing is, like, and it's not like they set out to design, you know, these reinforcing loops of any given habit. It's just It figures out what's going to get most reinforced for any given individual.

Joey Odom  27:00  

Yeah, that's right. What is if it is, yeah, if it's lust, or if it's greed, or whatever the whatever it requires to keep your eyes attentive to that even more, which segues into and I just love what the way you talk about this, this concept of, of magic, you talked about the life we're looking for. And I think it segues into that we talked about that this this idea of magic and how our technology can plays into that.

Andy Crouch  27:24  

Now. Well, there's this very ancient dream that there's some secret to the world. But if you could find it, you could do whatever you wanted, basically. And it turns out what people basically want is to turn everything into gold, so that you can have all the money you want, and to never die. And these are the two things like never be never be mortal. And these are the two things that the alchemists were seeking when they were looking for this thing called the philosopher's stone, which you might you might have heard of, there's a kind of famous book series, the first book of which it everywhere else in the world except the United States was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the United States. They're like that that'll never sell when as the word philosopher. But literally, in England, it's the philosopher's stone. And, and this is the dream of magic. It's the dream of a like a secret trick that gets the world to do what I want it to do. And crucially, no love is involved. So it's getting things done without relationship its power without relationship. Whether that's relationship with God because magic is always kind of set over against magic is not done to get closer to God magic is done to become God. And magic is not done to get closer to people magic is done to grant gain power over people. And while that may sound very distant, like we you know, we modern people don't believe in magic and we don't believe in the Philosopher's Stone, we it is helpful to remember this is where modern science came from. It came from all these alchemists trying to figure out the trick. And, and alchemy and chemistry. They say, Sure, the same route that can route alchemy chemistry, and we think well, but chemistry works and alchemy doesn't. And that's kind of true because they stumbled into some actual features of the world that do work and beautiful ways and fruitful ways for human beings. But so alchemy died out as a science but it did not die out as a dream. And the dream has always been if we could learn enough about the world, we could have power without relationship, abundance without dependence, and kind of have achieved lift off from our human condition and be like gods and and that's that's the dream. That's how technology is developed. It's developed to give us that simulation. And it's no accident that apple which really has done this better than any company over and over talks about his project products as magical. And no one's saying of course, they're doing well. literal magic. But the point is this answers the dream we've always had that the world would be magic. And and behind that is the dream that the world would be easy. But there's no suffering required to make a difference in the world. There's no sacrifice required, certainly no death just required. Whereas, just to kind of contrast this with with like, actually almost any religious tradition, but the one that I, you and I share is the Christian one. Jesus says you have to die to yourself to actually live. And Hendricks is like, oh, no, no, no, not necessary. We've we found the trick now no need for that nasty humility, dive to self? No, no, we found the secret escape door the trapdoor to heaven to be like God, and take over our destiny. And and if you don't think that's not what's driving, like, what features should we introduce? What should this product feel like? It should feel like that. And that's like the opposite of being a person who is designed for love for connection for relationship for dependence, and therefore the humility and ultimately, indeed, the kind of depth to self that is necessary to become a person who can love. It's just there on totally different tracks. But the magic track is extremely powerful. It's never gone away, it's still alive. And it's still the quest, it's the quest know of AI, it's the quest of, you know, lots of things that people are working on very hard and putting a lot of money behind.

Joey Odom  31:26  

So so the the devil's advocate to that is where the line is, because the wheel made things a heck of a lot easier. And the plow guy that made that man, his harvest a lot better. So where does it become? Where does it where does it go from progress into magic? Where does that line begin to get murky?

Andy Crouch  31:47  

That's a great question. Um, I think I think we can actually draw the, I admit, it's not always simple to draw it. Yeah. But I think there's actually a very clear transition, basically, from tools to devices. So So tools you mentioned the wheel and the plow. These are incredible kind of force multipliers, the in human life, as human beings take care of the world. But what they do not remove is the need for a human being to be deeply involved with skill with kind of presence in the activity. So if I'm, even if I have oxen drawing a plow, I have to domesticate those oxen, I have to care for them. caring for animals is a very important human activity, it we're, I think we're made to do it. And in any case, these domesticated animals depend on us to do it, I've got to be there in the midst of that. And that's really different from something that operates on its own. And so where you cross the line is when human beings no longer have to be present with heart, soul, mind and strength to get stuff done. So a car or even a car, a modern automobile, I mean, it's, it's certainly has a lot of technology in it, but it still requires skill to drive, we don't just hand the keys to an eight year old in our like, you have to have a kind of maturity, you have to have a sense of responsibility. You have to pay attention, as imperfectly as all of us do that. And but a self driving car would be magical, right. And, and, and that crosses the line. And when and then when you put it that way people like well, but I want a self driving car. And, of course you do. Like of course you want magic. But and I don't actually even think that it's all wrong to automate certain things, it's just we need to be aware of like, if you build your life around, disengaging, your life will become very, very thin, and you yourself will diminish. And the other thing about it is it's actually boring the second time and all the times after that. So magic is exciting the very first time. So the first time if you go to San Francisco right now you can get in a way Mo, and there's no driver, and it'll drive you around the city of San Francisco. So full self driving in a limited space. And the first time you'll build AI, it's driving itself. There's no steering wheels turning, it's magical. And then the second time, you're like, where's my Spotify, where's my Netflix because it's actually instantly boring. And this is another thing about our modern world is we're bored. Now we have a whole bunch of distractions. And by the way, Spotify, way, Mo will now let you play your own Spotify playlist because they're solving this problem like that you're bored while you're in the self in the magical self driving car, you're like, This is really boring, but at least I could listen to a podcast or something. Right? And because it's such a paradox that these these amazing things, they turn up because they don't engage us. They don't involve us. They don't develop us. They don't make us more of who we're really meant to be. We quickly find them kind of routine and and we're disengaged. So this Since the trade off of Yeah, I understand we want magic. But you gotta realize on the other side of magic is not a better human existence on the other side of magic ism is a really thin existence. Yeah. Does that make sense? It

Joey Odom  35:12  

makes it it makes a bunch of sense. And, and maybe I'd be curious your your take on this they were I was with a group of pastors talking about technology and there's within the church there's there is a the term AI is very scary, right? Because they don't they don't really know what it means. I mean, I think it's we fear we don't understand and so in so I had this I propose this to this group of people I said, hey, what if? What if in using leveraging this technology and leveraging AI to streamline some things for yourself? What if you then were able to redeploy that time back into taking care of the poor and the widows and orphans? Like how can we how can you use that versus getting letting it lead to you being lethargic? What have you been redeployed your more human efforts into something that requires the human efforts you can't AI can't do hospital visits, and they can't go around? Or they can't go handle backpacks and stuff like that? So it's, again, it's that maybe I'm describing that fine line? Again, you don't leverage it don't then let it just go back into sloth.

Andy Crouch  36:16  

Yeah, I mean, that's the right. That's got to be right. And I just will say, I think we need to wrestle with how hard it is in practice to actually follow through good. Because this is, this has been the dream all along. You know, John Maynard Keynes is the economist in the first half of the 20th century, he was like, What are we going to do with all the leisure we're going to have? Because industrialization like and so what actually happens is, as well, and the answer the sort of theoretical answers, oh, just think of all the art people will create. Think of all the time people spend playing musical instruments, think about all the, you know, incredible human activities, all the culture. And I just will say, does that feel like the work we have the world we have, in fact, first of all, the thing that happens when you automate is you actually increase people's increase the demands on people as workers. So automation actually just introduced a whole new set of tasks you have to either oversee or accomplish. So people are working like harder, longer hours to make the same amount of money now than they were 100 years ago. And so people actually end up working harder. And then their leisure time becomes thinner, it's entered. So people used to make music together like 100 plus years ago, routinely, to be human was to be part of community of people, whether your family or often a church, or just in the community who were making music, like you'd go to a dance and people would be playing instruments, and you might be one of them. Now, people listen to music. And that's a much thinner activity than making music. And it doesn't bind us to each other in the same way that making music does. So yes, in theory, automate away the routine tedious stuff, and you have more time for the meaningful stuff. But only if you have an incredible level of commitment to to live a formative and formed life. And I feel like I have that commitment, theoretically, but honestly, I have a grand piano in my house that I know how to play. And I there's a Beethoven sonata sitting on that piano, like music desk right now. And the last four days that I've been in my house, I have not sat down to practice that piece. And I've, on the other hand, I've spent a lot of time looking at a screen. And it wasn't all work. Like it's just I'm lured away from it. So I'm not sure we're going to be able to have that like presence of mind to say, oh, in all this new free time, I'm going to go visit an orphan and, you know, go to a prison and just visit those in prison and go to the hospital. I mean, I wish I believed we're gonna use our time that way, but I'm not sure that's going to be how it's gonna work out.

Joey Odom  39:02  

That's so true. It really is that it's it's, it really is, do I don't I don't, I've never visited an orphan or prison. So it's all it's almost like we think these things are going to change. Do you remember the deep thoughts by Jack Handey? They live years ago, one of my favorite ones was he said, If I ever get really rich, I hope I'm not really mean to poor people like I am now. All of a sudden, really? Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's just like something's going to change. I actually, I do want to dig on this for just a second and I had this thought you talking about making music? I think about that's something that I bet you everybody would love. If everybody's around. You're making music together. You're singing but I think of making music as one of the more vulnerable acts that anybody could do. To his degree like like, there's a lot of you like it requires out A lot of trust a lot of relationship. You want to terrify a kid say go sing a solo, right? Yeah. So yes, yes, yes. It sounds like we don't even have the capacity to go do that right now. Do you agree? I know you're a musician themselves.

Andy Crouch  40:12  

I completely agree. I think music is highly vulnerable, because it's so human to be done well, it involves so much of ourselves that requires us to expose so much of ourselves. I'll tell you very briefly, when I took voice lessons in particular, we would be doing in voice lessons, you spend a lot on extremely simple exercise, you're not singing songs, you're just sort of learning to make sound in a really focused way with all the breath and relaxation and so forth that's needed. And we'd be doing the simple exercise, it's me, and I'd like a 45 year old teacher when I was in my 20s. And he would take me through these exercises, and halfway through, I'd start weeping. Like, I may not maybe cry and cry, but like either, tears would start right now. And I feel emotion is this normal? And he said, happens all the time. He's like, if you if you do real work on producing the sound you're capable of producing with your voice, you will feel emotion Well, well, up and within you. And yes, it's extremely vulnerable. And that's why we'd much rather let the professionals do it. But yeah, but that's true of all of this hearts, online strength, love stuff, like it's in opens us up to the world and to each other. And ultimately, I believe, to God, in ways that are really risky. And that's why magic says you can have power without risk authority without vulnerability. So there's a reason we opt for the shiny button, rather than the instrument, you could say.

Joey Odom  41:46  

And then on the other side, just to maybe a slight adaptation on what you just said was, it was the real work, is, if you put in the real work you'll make you'll make music and not only music, but only music that only you can make. Yes, there's like Andy Crouch can he there's, there's music that only you can make that others can't make your right on that real work on the other side of that, because I want to, I want to close with a question. And I hate that we have to close at all, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna make you made you made you improvise for this answer that I love. And I want to go back for go back to it, you said that love, the love has to be so intensive, so attentive to another, so that what's good for them becomes good for yourself. So I want that kind of love. And I want to give that kind of love. So if someone were to walk away today, and I don't want to be reductive or simplistic, this is so complex, this is a lifetime, you know, a lifetime pursuit here, but how can we begin to position ourselves towards giving that kind of love?

Andy Crouch  42:55  

Well, the so the first thing I think, in our technological world is like, throw the switch on the device, like turn it off, I think having rhythms. So these are useful things, and I use them still. And I, I think there's a healthy way to use them. But I know what's not healthy is to have them always in my life. Always on so, you know, in the turquoise family. I mean, when people asked me like, what's one thing you know, to start with, I talked about one hour a day, one day a week. And then if you want to stretch one week, a year, where pretty much everything with an off switch, it turns off. And, and I would include electric lights in that. So dinner by candlelight, rather than dinner with electric light is it's a completely different thing. And so we turn off the lights, many dinners in our house, and it just changes your level of presence. And we like candles, and one hour a day. I mean, that's a minimum, I would say but and then one day a week a lot of people can't imagine that but I I just want it so recommend this one and seven practice where there just as a day where really nothing operates on its own, you're kind of back in your fundamental human condition of being with other people. Also alone, you know, solitude is actually part of love in a way because solitude unlocks the capacity to pay attention in a way and, and just having those rhythms changes the way you use the things the other the other 23 hours, recommend 23 hours of use, but the other six days. Yeah. And then anticipate, anticipate that the first thing that's going to happen is disorientation. So expect disorientation. And you know what psychologists called dysregulation that is yeah, things are going to get Messier before they get better. And you'll turn off your phone especially that day or my gosh, if you actually go on a week long like trip or something where you just minimize no screens for the whole family. I will tell you the first few days are going to feel like hell and your kids are going to say things like I hate you and various other endearing remarks will pass and but just hang on because it's actually part of paying attention is paying attention to how hard it is to be together how hard it is to love someone and hold on because you will find on the other side of that a new love for the people you've been given to love. So yeah, these interruptions of the magic are what I think what gives us the free restore the freedom to pay attention to ourselves to God if you believe are seeking God and to one another

Joey Odom  46:04  

beautiful Andy once again you delivered I don't know how I am going to try to get you with at some point. I'm gonna get you with a curveball, but but you've hit every one I've thrown stones so but you're just the best. Thank you. Thank you for coming on. Appreciate you very very much.

Andy Crouch  46:21  

Thanks so much Joe. Great to be part of this with you