Yahoogle!

From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. –Deut. 4:9

It’s 1985, and  I tell you I’m a genius.  You can ask me anything.

So you give it a shot:  “The weather today in Botswana?”  Clear and 61 degrees.  “The Russian word for ‘rope’?”  верёвка.  “How many McDonalds restaurants in Council Bluffs, Iowa?”  Three.  The most common ground squirrel in New England?  Ahh, trick question.  In New England, ground squirrels aren’t nearly as prevalent as tree squirrels.

In 1985, I would be hot stuff.   Probably rich.  Maybe an advisor to the president.

But here in 2011, I’m just a dude with access to the Internet.

Nowadays everybody has access to just about all the information there is.  Books, facts, charts, pictures, it’s all a few keystrokes away.   It’s exciting!  Enough to make you want to shout, “Yahoogle!”

However, sometimes I wonder if there’s a downside.   The fact that I can instantly access scores for high school baseball games played in Guam seems a tad much.   The notion that if I wanted to, I could read reviews for the movie Captain America in Ireland is just…strange.   It used to be that information was a commodity, a prize to be accumulated and treasured.

Now?  We’re way past information overload.   Now information is just….there.  Constant.   Like a constant buzzing sound in your ear.

I don’t know.  Maybe this is what the world looks like when it’s populated by geniuses.   Everyone has access to all there is to know, but somehow we still have the same problems.  “Smart” people still argue over the facts when it comes to political issues.   The rich still get richer and the poor still get poorer.   I guess I’m disappointed the search engine hasn’t saved us all.

One thing you can’t find on Yahoo! or Google is the meaning of life.  Oh, there are a number of opinions on the subject (47,000,000 to be exact) but when knowledge moves from the realm of facts to the realm of faith, the answers become more elusive.   If you want to know God, or your place in the world, or how humans should treat each other, there are plenty of articles you can read.   But truly finding that kind of Truth comes from searching your heart (not to mention the Good Book) and growing your faith.  There’s more to it than typing in keywords.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that as our technology increases, we must make sure our wisdom and our faith don’t lag behind.  The Internet may surely be a cause to shout Yahoogle!  But without a filter of faith…

It all sounds like nonsense.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

Photo Credit: Will Lion

Do not adjust

“Your boundary shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its OUTER LIMIT shall be south of Kadesh-barnea; then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and cross to Azmon;” –Numbers 34:4

How many times did you have to adjust today?

Adjust your schedule.  Adjust your expectations.  Adjust the seat in your car.

It seems like the world demands my constant adjusting.  Some days I get sick of it.

From 1963-1965 (and then for many years in reruns) there was a TV show called “The Outer Limits”.  It was kind of a take-off on the Twilight Zone…sci-fi based morality tales with a twist ending.  The memorable opening to the show showed an oscilloscope changing in size and pattern, as an ominous voice said the following:

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.  (Wikipedia.com)

I get a kick out of stuff like that, but today I’m especially intrigued by that second sentence.  “Do not attempt to adjust…”.

Ok, I won’t!   I won’t adjust my schedule anymore.  If someone’s running late, that’s their fault.   I won’t adjust my expectations.   If the movie I wanted to see got lousy reviews, I’m not going to let that dampen my excitement.   And the seat in my car?  Maybe I won’t let anybody else drive it so I won’t HAVE to adjust it.

Ahhh.   Feels good, not adjusting.   Letting the world conform to me for a while.  I am a rock!  I shall not be moved!

But then, there’s my TV.   I mean, I enjoyed the hour of the Outer Limits, but I don’t want to watch this infomercial that’s on afterwards.  Maybe I can just use my remote?  Just a little adjustment?

In the book of Numbers, God tells Moses all the dimensions of this Promised Land they’re headed to.   God even uses the phrase “outer limits” a couple times.   I think the idea was that this would be the land they’d been journeying toward, and no need to make further adjustments.

And that worked well, for a while.   But think about this—if the Israelites hadn’t adjusted to political events, and eventually, to Christ’s call to “Make Disciples Of All Nations”, God’s people would all be living in a relatively small patch of desert there in the middle east.

Sometimes I get sick of constantly making adjustments.   The idea of God (or some ominous voice from the TV) telling me to NOT adjust the boundaries of my life sounds comforting.   But life on this planet is ever-changing.   You and I are ever-changing.

We’re destined to seek out and explore the Outer Limits, to push the boundaries, to grow.

If you’ve been feeling a little too flexible lately, perhaps it’s alright to take an hour or so where you choose to not adjust, but after that?  It’s time to change.

Hopefully more than the channel.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

Duel-istic


It started last week.

I was standing in the produce aisle, inspecting peaches.   An employee standing next to me was humming along with the music from the speakers.  Absent-mindedly she said, “I just love Kenny G”.   I chuckled and said, “To be honest, I’ve never liked him.”

Almost immediately, she turned and glared at me.   She took off one of her latex gloves, and slapped me across the face with it.

“Choose your weapon,” she growled at me.   I sized her up briefly, looked at the pricing gun in her hand, and then bolted for the exit.

Two days later I was talking with somebody at the ballgame.   He said he hated the designated hitter rule.   I told him I thought it made the game more exciting.   Wham!  He slapped me across the face, whispered “Pistols at dawn”, and turned and left.  I’ve decided to start rooting for a different team.  Just to be safe.

What is going on?  I’ve been invited to four duels in the past three days!   I told someone I voted for Obama, and she pulled a sword!  I mentioned to someone else that I was against Capital Punishment and before I knew it we were arm wrestling.

Has the world gone mad?  It’s as if anyone who has an opinion contrary to yours is suddenly an enemy!  This sort of all or nothing thinking is dangerous…and contagious.

I’m worried.  This morning a parishioner told me they hated the Harry Potter books.  It took three people to hold me down!

It’s been shown time and again that dualism can lead to duel-ism.   Remember Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?  They took their political frustrations out with firearms! While I don’t see that kind of violence on C-SPAN, who could deny the divisive, violent undertones in modern political rhetoric and legislative debate?

Come to think of it, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter came to “magical” blows during a dueling lesson at Hogwarts.  It’s true, the Slytherins and the Griffindors seem to be at odds much of the time.

What about you?  How do you respond if someone picks the other side of an issue you’re passionate about?  Do you rush in to argue? Do you challenge your “opponent” to a battle of who is superior?  Do you feel compelled to fight for what you think is right?  Hmm. But what if the fighting part is what’s wrong?

Here’s some advice from the writer of Timothy:

Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.  –2 Timothy 2:23-25

This doesn’t mean you’re can’t choose to like (or not like ) Kenny G.   It doesn’t mean you can’t choose to approve (or disapprove) of some elected official.   It doesn’t even mean you can’t state your opinion, make your case, and try to share some of your accumulated wisdom in conversation with somebody who disagrees.

But the next time you feel like it’s time to take the gloves off…

Think twice before getting Slap Happy.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch