Wednesday, June 23, 2010

iPhone 4 oh Now

Tomorrow the newest hardware is installed in human hands. Beings across the planet are upgrading their finger tips with a black apple. Some with choose to wait on the pure white apple iPhone 4. White buds will pollinate ears as far as the eye can see-in the masses on metro lines, one man behind tinted glass of fast moving car, or in a mom who cannot even see her children 15 feet away on a playground.

Last year users installed the ancient 3GS into, before that the 3G, and prior to all this users installed just the plane jane aluminum shelled jalopy the iPhone. All of them now look like those silver bullet wind-stream RVs. Very cool, but so retro. Another year means another phone, means another propaganda line "everything has changed." Has everything changed, really? Or has change become the new norm.

"We live in a culture of built-in obsolescence. Nothing is designed to last. In order to keep the economy healthy we are conditioned to respond to the latest as the best . . . Quickly bored we are easily diverted from whatever we have just purchase." (E. Peterson, p. 254 Practice Resurrection) Today nothing is created for a lifetime but only for a good time . . . for a limited time. Yet each new product promises it is what you have waited your life for. The repeated choruses of "best in class" "product killer" and "everything has changed" is so old school that we cannot even see past the gleam of what is new. Actually things are the same - the same as they have been from the beginning of time. The only difference is that the new Roman Empire of Capitalism does it better than anyone could have imagined or planned from the dawn of creation. But is "better" best?

You think I'm a technophobe. You think I'm anti-technology. Wrong. I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone, and should receive the newest iPhone when it is released tomorrow. I like technology, use technology, and appreciate technological innovators.

The problem is that these things do not last. I do not mean we should build them better (well we should build them better to protect the environment and the impoverished); what I mean is that we should not consider this as an upgrade of our lives. It may or may not. If technology means you put in more work hours - there is no upgrade. If new technology means more isolation - then there is no improvement. If new technology means you think that because you can see your child through a device and record it that somehow you are investing in that child's development - it is certainly devolution.

Any technology is a tool. It is not the goal. Technology is something that we may use, but we should know that quickly it uses us. Technology is something to which we can say "No" even as we make limited use of it.

It is surprising how no one talks about Apple's logo - an apple minus one bite. The teacher's computer wears the logo of the oldest story from the dawn of time. When humans ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was Adam and Eve who ate, but it is we who still seek knowledge today. The killer ap is not found on your iPod, iPhone, iPad, or iMac. The killer phone is not the Droid anymore than it was the Blackberry or Palm or Motorola Razor. There will always be more, but more is often less until we find contentment with the now. Put down the black Apple and don't bite.

The knowledge that lasts is knowledge of the eternal. A relationship with a phone is as short lived as your 2 year contract - like a selfish marriage you are eager that first year for pleasure and then ready to break it off early for the next thing. Refuse to be trained as a consumer and instead seek the eternal God. Put down techno toys for a day, turn them off when you get home. "Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else you need will take care of itself," said Jesus long ago (Matthew 6:33). When tempted to write an application that would provide instant food and nourishment, Jesus said this, "Humans do not exist by bread alone but by every word that is breathed from God's mouth" (Matthew 4:4).

New motto: seek the eternal in the present moment and ignore the promises of things.

Monday, June 14, 2010

College Football Buried in Money

The week long melodrama of conference hoping has assured me of one thing. Collegiate sport is dead. I suppose it has been that way for many years now. However the teams negotiating leave of the Big 12 for the Big 10, the left behinds negotiating a jump to the Pac-10, and then the final decision by 10 teams to stay in the Big 12 was all a soap opera fit for a Donald Trump show. The bottom line was clearly in site. The fact that the landscape could change and that teams across the board could DOUBLE their multi-million dollar television deals . . . well, that is proof that money is what makes decisions.

Does money make all of your decisions for you? Does if feel good when money either limits or advances you? I wonder if there are ways to live in this world that instead of rewarding the big boy on the block (the Universities of Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma or the power on Wall Street or whomever) we find ways to take care of the left behinds. You know, those millions of people whose homes were foreclosed upon even as banks took in record profit from the "downturn." The smaller universities who have no television market. The small town stores and businesses squeezed out by profit making giants. Maybe we should make decisions about how we vote, spend money or even discuss political issues in a way that benefits more than our already successful team, party, economic class, or nation.