Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
High definition, high tech and bifocals
Even though Congress has extended the deadline for TV broadcasters to switch from analog to digital to June 12, by the time you read this, many North Mississippi stations will have gone ahead with the change. It is said they are doing this for economic reasons, but Mississippi Public Broadcasting says there are thousands of people in this area who do not yet have their converter boxes. They either cannot afford them or do not know how to hook them up, or are simply unaware.
It seems we are always having to update our technology whether we want to or not. By some accounts, Holly Springs was the last town in the state to get dial phones.
The story goes that many resisted the change, as they liked the convenience of just telling the operator (or “Central” as she was called) to whom they wished to speak, instead of having to use their fingers to work the dial on the new phones.
(Rosedale, near my hometown of Cleveland was also one of the last towns to get dial service — and don’t tell them, but they say Rosedale was the last Mississippi community to get it. Isn’t it amazing what towns like to brag about? I think the old Rosedale switchboard went to the state museum in Jackson.)
I do not remember operator assisted local calls. But I do recall when you told the operator your information when you wanted long distance. Daddy had a booming voice and made so many calls that he did not have to identify himself when speaking with the long distance operators at Cleveland. They recognized his voice and knew his number to add the charges.
When area codes were added, so that you could dial the numbers yourself, even though the service was suddenly cheaper, people complained because they had to remember (or look up) all those extra digits. This was about the same time that zip codes came in. More grousing.
New technology is nice, but it has its price. Anybody who has had to program a new VCR or CD system knows what I mean. I usually call for help. I have a clergy friend who is so computer-savvy that he claims he has never had to hire a technician to help with his extensive computer system. For my part, I have trouble working the keypad on the microwave.
Someone sent me an article that the government is asking ministers to help their church members who are confused about the analog to digital changeover. We are supposed to have classes on where to get and how to hook up those converter boxes. Maybe some of my colleagues would be good at this, but anyone who knows me can testify that I would be the worst possible choice to lead such an effort.
Presbyterians may be the most “technologically-challenged” religion. Indeed, our lack of gadgets and gizmos in the sanctuary is almost a badge of honor. It is the way you can tell who we are!
Some years ago I officiated at a wedding conducted in a church of another denomination. There were more people there with the technical services than there were family and friends to constitute the “dearly beloved” gathered to celebrate with the bride and groom! Here were all these people monitoring the sound, adding the video, taking the pictures (both still and video), piping in the music, and adjusting the lights.
In our church on Sundays, it is just me and the organist. Two deacons receive the offering. Very simple, completely low-tech.
I like my new digital toys as well as the next guy, although I am not sure how much good a high-definition TV is going to do me what with my bifocals and growing need for a hearing aid.
I also remember that Jesus reached the whole world simply by teaching twelve other guys. He had no “technology” whatsoever. So far as we know, he did not even write a book.
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