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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

November 16, 2012


Last year, a college student who grew up at our church took her semester abroad and went to Madagascar. That is a long way from Ohio, and yet I and many others went right along with her.

She worked, studied and traveled around that island nation off the East Coast of Africa; and along the way, she blogged about it. I enjoyed it; and while I was pleased to see her return safe and sound, I missed her adventure stories. She would take a bumpy bus ride, and maybe 6 hours later, I (and many others) would read about it on her blog. A trip to an isolated beach? We saw the golden sands soon thereafter. Visiting a family in an out-of-the-way village? I saw pictures and had a description within hours. Upset stomach from local foods? Well, I heard about that very soon too.

It was wonderful. It got so that if I did not hear from her blog, I wondered what had happened to her. (“Why isn’t she blogging?? It’s been 14 hours since her last report!”) Or, that is sort of what we came to expect from her and the excellent blog and the 24/7 reach of social media.

This year we have another college student from church studying in Europe. Within hours I know exactly what historical site she has visited; the number of courses in the tour’s latest meal; and her itinerary for the upcoming 48 hours. I love it.

I won’t lament the length of time it took for my family and friends to know where I was back in the 1970’s when I lived in Africa. The reality was that a letter took 2 weeks. So a response from Mom, if I asked her a question took 4 weeks round-trip. That’s a month.

No one really knew where you were for long periods of time, and it did not occur to us that people might want to know in detail. I’ve read where the younger generation has had their brains re-wired (so to speak) because of all this technology. I am just as prone to its effects since I carry a smartphone everywhere. Frankly, I rather like it.

As a minister, I do constantly wonder how a long-established form of communication such as a sermon, delivered in… say… one 14-minute span of time, can possibly be tolerated  by today’s 25 year olds.

I know there have been studies. I know it challenges us preachers to make the sermon relevant and interesting. But I just have to wonder how it is possible to be “in the moment” in a church service as a quiet hymn, simple prayer and 14-minute sermon are presented in succession, when instead, you could quickly check your cellphone blog and see, in real time, what your friends in Europe and Africa are having for lunch.

Which gives a whole new meaning to the expression, “just phone it in.”

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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