Technology

When we contemporary Americans, especially of a certain age, say “technology,” we usually mean something specific. We mean “computers.”

Technically, we probably mean “electronic devices,” but I’m guessing that we think of all of those as “computers.” We’re of a certain age. That’s how that mental box originally got labeled, and the label has stuck.

We probably do not mean electric lights. Or thermostats and the air conditioning units they control. Or whatever mechanized industrial system makes wall to wall carpet possible. Or the printing press. Technically, all of that undoubtedly qualifies as “technology,” too. And, it’s “in church.” And has been “in church” for a long time.

But when we say “technology in church,” we probably mean the computer on the floor in the sanctuary. That runs trademarked presentation software the name of which rhymes with “Go anoint!” That, theoretically, electronically communicates with another computer attached to the wall of the sanctuary. That displays the presentation. That presents the words to the liturgical responses, and the hymns. That we’re using these days instead of photocopied bulletins. [Speaking of “technology in church” …]

Unless we mean whatever we do to capture the service and convert it to a video that can be seen and heard on the internet.

I suspect that if we all knew how it worked, basically, it would be less daunting. Or rather, if we all knew how to make it work, even when it doesn’t work, automatically, right away, the first time.

If that computer were as familiar even as the digital alarm clock that woke us up on time, or the electric coffee maker we used to make coffee before we left the house, or the car we drove to the building, we would be less likely to say “I don’t know why we need all this technology in church anyway” when the mystic sweet communion between the computer on the floor and the one on the wall doesn’t produce any visible results.

But people’s state of metaphysical ignorance leads to a good bit of prayer before the worship service even begins. As well as to a keen experience of the benefits of community. And enthusiastic expressions of hospitality when other churchgoers who might know something walk through the door. And choruses of “Hallelujah!” and “Thank you, Jesus!” and a good bit of heartfelt praise and thanksgiving, too, when everything finally comes to life again.

So on balance, the technology in church these days seems to have a pretty nice effect on people, as far as I can tell.

red line embellished

Images: “Hibiscus,” Vengolis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; “Hibiscus Flower 2,” Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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