Last week, a friend of mine converted to chiropractor-ism.

Having visited the healer with neck complaints, my friend received a full lesson on the human spine and, more specifically, how the neck is continually strained and often damaged by the hours that many first-world humans spend bent over their laptop computers, smartphones, and (sometimes) books. Going on a crusade of sorts, my friend discovered my husband’s paltry set-up for dissertation writing and spent the better part of a day securing a second-hand monitor and keyboard for him, in order to improve the conditions under which he labors.

My friend will not stop till all those in his office have fine, large monitors on their desks, properly-sized to fit just at eye-level — no slouching! — for health’s sake.

(In full disclosure: I stacked a few books under my own work monitor this morning and report that my day was exceptionally productive and pain-free.)

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But all this talk about posture got me thinking about the ways our bodies affect our souls — a favorite Anglican diversion — and what all this spine-curving might be doing to our spiritual lives. If, like my friend’s chiropractor preaches, we modern, technologically-addicted people are actually changing the arc of our spines (creating curved lines which are meant to be straight), aren’t our spirits likewise suffering? This was the moment my meager theological Latin came rushing back: curvatus in se — that human propensity to curve in on ourselves. It is the nature of fallen humanity to seek always our own good at the expense of everyone and everything else — each of us think we’re the center of the universe, engaging all the time in sinful navel-gazing, if you will.

So the overuse of technology isn’t just a temptation to escape from the present but also a physical and spiritual habituation into believing ourselves to be the center of the universe. We’re training our bodies to forget the lesson which every oldest sibling learns the hard way when a younger brother or sister arrives: the entire world does not revolve around us. As we continue to learn more about how our bodies respond to changing conditions, it’s not much of a reach to suppose that our posture predisposes our perspective.

If cutting down the hours spent peering into a glowing screen isn’t practical — even if your soul is at stake — at least prop up your monitor with a few books. Then, at the very least, you’ll be training your neck (and maybe even your soul) to look up and out instead of curving in on yourself; it’s the Anglican thing to do.

The featured image was supplied by the author.

About The Author

The Rev. Emily Hylden serves as vicar of St. Augustines’s Oak Cliff in Dallas.

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