Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Tyrrany of the Cell Phone
As much as I loved the Symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary, I did not love the folks sitting in Sihler Auditorium who believed that they were so important they had to keep their cell phones on AND the ringer set on loud and obnoxious. You might think that Pastors who had been victims of the cell phones of parishioners might be a bit more circumspect about their own cell phone habits. You'd think that might be the case but... you might be wrong.
Yesterday my cell phone died. Well, that is not exactly accurate. I went to make a call and found the phone worked beautifully except that the cracked screen made it impossible to know who I was dialing, texting, taking a picture of, etc... There for a time I had a couple of options rolling around in my head -- one of which was to get rid of the damn thing. The other was to use my old cell which basically only makes and receives calls (you can do more but it ain't pretty how you do it). Then my wife and my son told me to buck up, shut up, and get to the store and replace the phone. Humbled by their logic and broken by their refusal to commiserate with me, that is exactly what I eventually did. But, part of me thinks I wimped out. I should have gone without a cell phone. Maybe that is the Luddite (old Adam) in me... or, perhaps, the need for the cell phone is the old Adam... I am still working through that one...
My point is that cell phones, like many of our electronic gadgets, have taught us that we are more important than we are. We carry them around like the world might come to an end if somebody could not call us and ask us "What are you doing?" or "Where are you at?" We assume a self-importance that belies the truth. We are all dispensable. I was actually gone for a week, had minimal contact with the office, and, guess what, the Church was still there when I got back. Amazing that my staff and parishioners actually got by without me -- the Grand Poobah of Important Clergy!! Oh, dear, what a blow to my ego.
We carry around our cell phones (and Blackberrys and I-phones and netbooks and notebooks and laptops) because we cannot afford to focus on something besides ourselves. Sure, and I will admit this because some of you are business folk who must be in contact with your job, some of us need to be connected. But most of us don't. We have been fooled by our own sinful flesh and the sinful world around us, whispering in our ears, that we are so darned important that we must be in touch with everyone on our friends list all the time. Talk about curvatus in se! (In case you do not read Latin, google it on your phone, net book, notebook, or laptop.)
Part of the regenerate life is being able to shut off the cell phone and its false sense of importance and I vote you begin in Church on Sunday morning. Just say "no!" Shut it off. Let it go, Luke, let it go. The force will be with you. You can do it... If for no other reason that God deserves our full attention and if for no other discipline than allowing that just maybe we are not as important as we think, shut it off. I realize that this is difficult so I will compromise. Turn off the ringer and put it on silent. That way your self-importance will not disturb prayerful attention of the folks sitting around you.
Ahhhhhhh... rant for the day over. Cross that one off the to do list (conveniently carried around with me on my cell phone).