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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twitter, Blockbuster and Ice Boxes

Today at Rotary one of the members stood up and as a lead-in to a funny story asked, "How many of you follow Twitter?" No one raised a hand. While we have a couple of folks under forty, for the most part it is a "mature" group. The kind of folks who do not follow Twitter.

Earlier in the day I was at our local middle school to participate in a school evaluation. I was talking with a mother and a teacher about change. We were discussing the recent closing of Blockbuster video. It was a huge loss to us because that is where we went to get our movies. We remember when it started, watched it expand and do a booming business, and have now seen it die. I guess it is time to learn a new method of getting movies.

When I was a boy, my grandma called the refrigerator an ice box. It was an interesting term to which I gave little thought. It was not until years later that I figured out that the term was literal. When she was a girl that is what they had, a box with a compartment for a huge block of ice. There were people who made a living sellling ice. For a while....

I write all this because last week I read an article about blogs. Blogs, it said, are dead. Well, let me nuance that. Young people do not blog. They facebook and Twitter. My guess is it will be some time before that impacts the people who would read this blog. But clearly, I am not reaching out to twenty somethings here, even if I secretly hoped that might happen. I wonder if there is anyone under 35 who reads this...

The question for me is what does it mean to live in a world where the "next new thing" is literally on its way before the latest "new thing" has just arrived? I read in Newsweek that Facebook was a major player in the middle east uprising. Young people there are connected. Facebook, where many middle aged people catch up with old high school friends, is an integral part of a very significant social revolution. Cell phones, smart phones, cameras and texts have been obviously part of the story.

The statement, "there is nothing new under the sun" is true in a sense, but it is also not the whole story. You and I live in a time of rapid change. Wedding a sense of the timeless with the capacity for rapid change is a huge challenge. What does it mean to believe in an eternal God when everything is temporary? Certainly churches are experiencing the same struggles as business and family. Change is not good or bad. Improvements are good. Some change is an improvement, but not all change is for the better.

In the days ahead, changes will confront us with new challenges and new opportunities. The one constant is God, yet for many of us, the mode of understanding God is shifting. Sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes like a hammer to the head. We do well to be reflective to see how we are unconsciously being pulled into the new world in which we live. It is our world whether we like it or not. Old answers need to be spoken in new ways. Just like Jewish belivers in Jesus had to adapt their message to Greek Gentiles, and later to European pagans and more recently to  those in the southern hemisphere.

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