Shriven = forgiven, having made your confession. Hence Shrove Tuesday, when confession was made before the season of Lent began

We live in a society of paradoxes. On the one hand we are less and less inclined to join organisations, to make public our commitments to political parties, or religions. On the other hand we are more and more uninhibited about confessing our innermost thoughts to – well, everyone who cares to look. We blog, tweet, facebook – I’m not exactly a quick starter, but I’ve been having a great time getting into it over the last couple of months.

I wonder if we’re looking for some kind of absolution through this new openness – maybe a compensatory forgiveness for our reluctance to do the same thing in our physical, bodily lives. Even as we retreat from the physical world, we open up to the virtual one, until we even confuse the two.

I was talking to someone today who was reflecting on the long, fruitless hours she spends flicking around websites. It’s the personal experience of the theme common to an increasing number of writers, the half-life of the screen and the fingers which can suck a whole life into that little circle. Does it make any better to blog about it?

We talked about that too. She is intending to cut down to half an hour’s internet per day during Lent – which will have to be pretty focused in order to get everything done. But that’s only half the job. Repentance doesn’t mean stopping doing something, though it includes it; it means heading off in a new direction.

I think we need to find ways in which our new virtual world can be exciting, enjoyable, enriching; and I think that’s only possible if it remains intimately connected to the physical world. Virtuality on its own is a temptation: I would even say it’s a sin, because it denies the whole humanity we’ve been given. But as part of a whole human life – what a gift. I’m going to try to use Lent as a time to integrate what can so easily become separated in myself. I want to find the virtue in the virtual world.