Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Technology is great..."

It's funny to watch people when their electronics fail. People always feel a compulsion to say to me "Technology's great when it works." Why they say this to me, I don't know. Maybe it's because until recently, I constantly had a computer in my back pocket, and I've got enough tech-geekery to save my church an occasional $80/hour in calls to Computer Doctor, so they think I need a reality check or something.

But what they're talking about isn't "technology." Technology is the -ology, the knowledge, of techne (craft), of ways to do things which are theoretically better, more efficient. When the sound system went down at a conference I was at last month (which negated our ability to hear the slight-voiced speaker we were enjoying), some wag quipped that if Jesus had preached the Sermon on the Mount with a sound system, we'd have been more concerned with the technology than with the message. But Jesus was using technology, at least the technology of His day. He was using the technology of the natural acoustics of the local geography as an amplifier. He was using the technology of public speaking, which is far more efficient than repeating the same message to 5000 people one at a time. And then some one used a really hi-tech thing called writing (which only certain Information Technology specialists, called scribes, were fluent in), to amplify that message so that millions upon millions could interact with it.

Technology is a helper to communication. Some of it is easier to maintain (especially that which has had centuries to be perfected, like paper), more reliable (like a mountainside), but it's all technology. Roman roads, papyrus and ink, the Greek language, were the technology of mass communication in their day, which carried the Gospel message across the known world. Email, internet, cell phones, even radio, are all still maturing. Give them time. They're already, in their imperfection, spreading the Word to corners Roman roads never reached. And they remind us that God chooses to use the imperfect things of this world (like us) to do His work.

And next time someone says to you that technology;'s great when it works, ask them when's the last time their pencil broke. We're still perfecting that one too! : )

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