Subtle Change

Jonathon and I were just talking about money orders. It occurred to me that I have not thought of money orders for several years and that the era of the Debit card and on-line purchasing had somewhat supplanted what was the go-to method of payment a generation ago. Now I realize that money orders are still in use, however they do not have the prominence that they one time had.

I remember watching the Today Show on NBC and one of the announcers asking the other what email was. I was glad that the question was asked because I had no idea what it was and was mystified by the internet addresses beginning with ‘www’… both struck me as speaking another language. I was enrolled in the major, Electronic Data Processing’ in 1980 and we fashioned our programs from typing the instructions on data cards and running them through a card reader and having the results printed out on watermelon paper. The floor of the computer lab at Faner, on the campus of SIUC, was covered with the little circles that came from the punches that were made in the cards. When I began working at the University the personal computer had yet to be invented. When the PC arrived on Campus…they were all Apple computers.

So, in our current time almost everyone has a computer or two…or three. For over a year our church has conducted church services by Zoom and it has worked swimmingly. Worship and commerce and media and opinion…have never been more convenient and we have never been more separated. I was so excited at the onset of the Internet and reveled in my telephone modem hook up that took minutes to download one page. I could not imagine the knowledge that was at my fingertips…and now I feel like the actor Burgess Meredith in the famous Twilight Zone episode where he survives a nuclear holocaust and is left in a crumbling library…with books piled high and surrounding him on every side. The classic episode illustrates that Meredith’s character had terrible vision and suddenly he trips…and breaks his glasses and can no longer read the printed word. In a similar vein we have been given a gift that is a Trojan horse. For each useful and accurate and true piece of information that is on-line…there are a plethora of lies and conspiracy theories and false information that’s purpose is to deceive and demoralized and denigrate our society. False information has broken our glasses…

We used to join hands around the dinner table and pray for God’s blessing over our food and our lives. Everyone attended and all took part in the lively conversation of the events that the family had encountered during their sojourn to work and school. Our neighbors would knock on our front door or we would sit on our porch and enjoy a drink of cool lemonade or iced tea with them. They knew us…and we knew them. If their kids were in danger…we ran to help them. If someone did not have enough to eat…we saw to it that they did not go hungry… When we needed information we walked to the public library and held the thick books of knowledge and learned to be quiet and marveled that we could check out any book that we wanted…for free.

Contentment was enjoying Sunday lunch after church. A good lesson from the Bible and some up-lifting hymns…and now a full belly of mom’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes…and then the sublime Sunday afternoon nap…

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