Gongs

By: Dennis Bates

 

Technology confuses me to say the least. I suspect that it confuses a lot of people who are chronologically challenged. Just when you start to understand the difference between an instant message and email, somebody twitters. We don’t call each other on the telephone anymore, we send a text message, and it actually helps to be all thumbs to do that.

 

When I started writing I hired someone to build  a webpage. Now I’m told I need a Face Book page, or a Shout Life page. I can even have all of these things and tie them together so when I blog like this, it will show up on these other pages. I guess that’s good. It’s progress after all, and all progress is good because it is change and somebody, somewhere decided that’s what life is all about: change, constant improvement, getting better.

 

Yet, I look around me at economies that are in trouble, educational systems that are failing and churches that are better known for their scandals than the good that they do and I wonder…huh? If change is good and technology is facilitating that change today faster than ever, then why isn’t everything good or at least better? Why do we need to reinvent something that was just reinvented last week? Why do we need to bail out failing institutions by giving them more money when they already lost all the money that they had and a lot of what they didn’t?

 

I guess I’m getting old. I don’t get it. Of course, when I went to school we were taught to read, write a simple sentence and add up a column of numbers. And we did all of that without computers, iPods, calculators, and any of the dozens of other devices we need now. In those days if you weren’t home when somebody called you, you just missed their call, and somehow we survived. There were no cell phones, no hand held computers that doubled as cell phones, and we didn’t even answering machines. How did we do it?

 

I know, I know, the world has changed. I would stipulate that, but tell me why it’s better. After all, technological devices are only the medium, not the message. To some degree we are the clanging gongs that Paul talks about in Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. We speak in tongues, using abbreviations and codes instead of words, but we don’t have love, or in this case substance to our communications.

 

 LOL, BRB, ROTF: what do those commonly used phrases really say? I’m not asking what they mean; I actually know that answer, but what do they say? Where is the thought process behind them, the mental discipline that it takes to use them; where is their humanity?

 

Paul said in that famous Biblical chapter that unless we have love, we have nothing. Have any of these technological devices allowed us to love each other more? I am firmly convinced that love is still at the center of everything; it is that new commandment that Jesus gave all of us, and if twittering helps me love better, then I’m all for it. However, if all I can do with all these things is spread empty values to more people, faster, then what’s the point?

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