In a world where everything (technologically) is screaming for our attention, nothing usually gets our attention and if something gets our attention we, too often, only commit a few seconds of focus before we are pulled on to the next amusement.
On March 4th 2009 in the Wheaton Chapel, Dr. Read Schuchardt, Wheaton College Assistant Professor of Communication spoke. I recently listened to his lecture and I encourage you to do the same. You can find it here. Here are some of my notes...
“God speaks in “a still small voice.” But scriptures use of natural phenomenon may not work for you. “While God works in mysterious ways and does speak through the tongues of human beings, God has not, so far in recorded human history, spoken through an electronic medium. People throughout history have heard God’s voice and sometimes they have heard it audibly but they have never to my knowledge received an e-mail from God, a text message or an apparition of God’s visage on their television. God does not post to YouTube. If so, I Kings 19:11-12 would read much differently – The Lord God said, ‘Go out and stand in a WiFi hot spot in the presence of the Lord. For the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful electronic media revolution tore down all previous pre-electronic media forms and shattered their business models but the Lord was not in the media revolution. After the internet there was the cell phone but the Lord was not in the cell phone. After the cell phone, came the Blackberry but the Lord was not in the Blackberry. And after the Blackberry’s battery died and the recharger was lost, there came a gentle whisper and the whisper said, ‘Can you hear me now?’”
“Consider that all of our presence is based upon technologies of absence. The Greek word for distance is ‘tele.’ Telegraph means ‘distant writing.’ Telephone means ‘distant speaking.’ Television means ‘distant seeing.’ Telefusion (the internet) means ‘distant togetherness.’ There you are on Facebook with 243 friends alone in your dorm room at your computer. In all these communications you are in your body and yet you are also out of your body – somewhere in between sender and sent. The only comparison is to schizophrenia or to the idea of bi-location, of being in two places at once which the Catholic church claims is possible for many of its Saints. In U2’s song Fast Cars, from the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Bono sings, ‘I’m not used to talking to somebody in a body.’ If all your communication is based on distance, then consider why the word ‘communicate’ implies presence, it means ‘to make as one.’ It comes from the same root word as commune, community and communion. Real communication requires ‘being there.’”
“In 1844 when the telegraph was invented there was one classification of mental disorder – insanity. In 2009 there are 297 classifications of mental disorders. One of the most recent classification of mental disorder is ‘texting addiction.’ Which is what Mr. Sanchez had, while engineering the L.A. train that crashed after he had made his 43rd text message resulting in the deaths of 25 people.”
“Incarnation is about BEING THERE. You can send a friend an e-mail when a loved one dies. You can send an electronic fund transfer to a foreign country that has been hit by a tsunami. But we are called to love and love involves sacrifice. Our call is to sacrifice the efficiency, convenience and distance that our technology affords us and to show up in person and feed the hungry, clothe the poor, comfort the orphans and widows in their distress and not be corrupted by the care of our iPhones. Real presence is a pre-requisite for real love.”
There is a difference between having a lifestyle and a life.