Why Your Attention Is a Valuable Resource--and Why You Should Consecrate It

The often-used phrase “pay attention” is apt: you dispose of a limited budget of attention that you can allocate to activities, and if you try to go beyond your budget, you will fail. It is the mark of effortful activities that they interfere with each other, which is why it is difficult or impossible to conduct several at once.
—Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

The key to a Christian conception of studies is the realization that prayer consists of attention. It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable toward God. The quality of the attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer. Warmth of heart cannot make up for it.
—Simone Weil, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God”

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These are two very different views of attention, of course. Kahneman sees it as a resource to be managed, while Weil sees it as a sacrifice to be placed on the altar of God. Perhaps more than anybody else, though, Latter-day Saints should see it as both. Our faith tradition has a long history of bringing valuable resources to the altar and dedicating them to the building up of a community. We call this “consecration,” and we refer to the resulting community as either “Zion” or “the Kingdom of God.”

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