Posted tagged ‘smart phones’

Outsmarted By A Coffee Cup

November 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               November 14, 2017


It used to be that I was in the top forty per cent of intelligent people in my household, depending on which of the kids were home! Things have changed. Since Carol and I are empty nesters I’m in the bottom half of “smarts.” Even more than that, however, we have been accumulating various devices, appliances, and controls that are smarter than me. If I was a middle school student I would qualify for special educational services due to how low I am on the intelligence testing chart.

This morning I noticed that Starbucks has a ceramic coffee cup that can be programmed to keep your coffee hot. It connects to an app on your cell phone…note the name! Smart Phone!…and assures you, through the use of WiFi of a constant sipping of hot brew. It uses WiFi! I don’t even understand WiFi, but this coffee cup does! If I decide to purchase one of these mugs my coffee cup will be smarter than I am! It allows you to choose the temperature that you desire, the time you would like it hot, cooks dinner for you, figures out your taxes, etc…

I enjoy the convenience of my smart devices, but also miss the old days when I knew I was higher up on the IQ meter; the days when I knew I was more intelligent than my rake, shovel, broom, and…, okay…well at least my rake, shovel, and broom! Oh, and also the big rock that I would put in front of the door to hold it open! I was smarter than a rock!

To make us feel good about ourselves we keep a dumb toaster oven around. It can’t seem to figure out when the toast is burning. I was warming up some tortilla chips yesterday and they ended up looking like a picture of an Old Testament sacrificial burnt offering! Who would ever have thought that I would feel a bit better about myself as a result of charred tortilla chips?

The world is a smart place populated with an abundance of moronic people. I now shy away from devices or areas that make me feel like an idiot…a list that seems to be growing rapidly. If the cable TV goes out I exit the room and pretend to be unaware of the problem. If our programmed thermostat seems to be off kilter I just leave the house for a while. I avoid conflict, especially with devices that don’t want to cooperate.

I’ve got my eye on the ceramic coffee cup still. I’m intrigued. It’s slowly drawing me into the possibility of convenience. The question, however, is what would I do with my thermo-plastic coffee mug held together with duct tape that I’ve sipped from for 25 years? The coffee has always seemed to taste better from it.

Senior Class Media Fast

October 26, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           October 26, 2016


I was the substitute teacher yesterday for a high school teacher who teaches seniors literature and rhetoric. The subject matter for the day was uneventful…study hall! The other major event, however, was causing the weeping and gnashing of teeth- a two day media fast!

One of the books the rhetoric classes had been reading dealt with the influence of media upon people’s lives, how it shapes our minds and opinions, and occupies much of our time. Mr. Reed, the veteran teacher, had his students commit to a 48-hour fasting from music, cell phones, TV, computers, listening to sports talk radio, and any other forum of media.

The fast began at the start of the school day, 7:45 A.M. Like confident marathon runners at the beginning of a race, surrounded by cheering crowds, the students approached the starting line of the day. In the midst of the confidence there was a heightened level of disgruntlement. Most of the seniors saw the fast as an annoyance as opposed to a learning experience. It was going to mess with their routines!

Twenty minutes into the first class two young ladies asked if they could go to the library to check on a couple of books. At 8:18 they came back repenting! On their way to the library they encountered one of the middle school teachers that they knew. He was watching a funny video on his cell phone and invited them to view the thirty-second clip also. Like bugs drawn to the light they leaned in close to the small screen, watched and laughed…and then realized! They had broken the fast less than thirty minutes after beginning. Aghast at their transgression, they limped back into the classroom and confessed of their fallen nature. One of their classmates wrote their names on the board with the time, “8:18” beside it! They recognized that this media thing was a seductive temptress!

In the next class three boys got into a discussion about whether watching that night’s Game 1 of the World Series was exempt from the media fast. Two of them were Cub’s fans. The last time the Cubs won the World Series media consisted of two tin cans and a string, as well as newspapers. Surely watching the baseball game would be allowed, almost like a last steak dinner for a condemned criminal…outside the laws of reason but within the realm of grace! One student hinted of deception.

“I don’t care! I’m going to watch it!”

“You can’t!”

“No one needs to know!”

An afternoon class amused me with a conversation between several boys about not being able to play their game systems for two days. One boy confessed that he had spent a quarter of the past year playing some on-line game in which he was ranked seventh in the world.

“Dude! Twenty-five percent of your life this past year? That’s six hours a day…every day!”

“Yes! My mom doesn’t know! I don’t think she would be very happy!”

His friend, still amazed and wondering about whether his classmate had any common sense, “Dude! Are you kidding me? That’s like all you’ve done is eat and play video games!”

“I know…crazy, isn’t it?”

I could tell his friend wanted to say “No…stupid, is what it is!”, but instead he just shook his head.

Media is second nature for most people these days, like dressing and combing one’s hair in the morning. For young people these days, if someone wants to be a radical then being “disconnected” would qualify. It’s counter-cultural! Earlier this year I was guest teacher in another class of senior students studying world political systems. The assignment for the day was to find articles on-line that supported their view on democracy. Everyone had a smart phone! Everyone! And everyone searched for news articles, editorials, blog posts to back up what they thought they believed.

Media shapes minds and influences people. The point of the high school teacher in pushing for the media fast was to make that point. From there my guess is he will spend some time talking about how the media can feed its audience mis-information that will be accepted as true! Glitzy graphics and emotion-inducing music can sometimes be more convincing than the facts!

I wish I could have subbed for Mr. Reed again today to hear of the pain and suffering…the media pangs, if you will…of the first twenty-four hours. Would the one student confess to his World Series infraction? Would there be tears from a few over having to drive home from school in silence? Would a few look haggard and bleary-eyed?

And would there be some who began to understand?

Church Selfies

January 20, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                       January 19, 2015


        “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

Selfies are the new self-expression! What did we do before photo-taking cell phones! Not many people back in those old days…ten years ago…were into the habit of taking their instamatics and snapping themselves in multiple places and numerous facial expressions.

In case you’ve been a cave for a while, “selfies” are snapshots someone takes with their cell phone…of himself/herself. Usually they end up on the person’s Facebook page for people to admire. They aren’t bad, but there are some people who are a little bit overly focused on themselves.

I’ve noticed recently, however, that there are a growing number of churches that are a little bit stuck on themselves. They turn the camera toward themselves and fill up space and time with “selfies” of how awesome they are.

Don’t get me wrong! There are multitudes of churches that are seeking the face of God instead of the click of their own faces. It’s these churches that still give me hope. They are congregations that understand that it’s not all about themselves, and are committed to being agents of mercy, listeners of heartaches, and doers of the Word.

In terms of “church selfies” I’m not talking about advertising and publicity. I’ve got no problem with congregations advertising about themselves on Facebook, in the newspaper, on radio, and even mass mailings. I’m talking about a kind of religious arrogance that conveys visions of churches that are a step above everybody else.

Recently I heard of a congregation that conveyed to their denominational reps that they had it all together…that the representative could focus on all those other churches that weren’t on that first name basis with Jesus like they were. When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi he says “put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.” (Philippians 2:3, The Message paraphrase; Eugene Peterson) It’s hard to put yourself aside when you’ve got the camera turned towards yourself.

There are a number of churches that are more concerned with how they look than how people are seeing Jesus in them. They are more obsessed with primping than proclaiming, posing rather than praying. Modern-day Corinthians…obsessed with themselves at the expense of others. (Read 1 Corinthians 11)

As a rapidly aging pastor I would much rather have someone in front of me that I can be authentic with. They don’t have to have their hair all in perfected placement. They don’t even have to have hair! The older I get the more I need people who have a little mud on their clothes and crap on their shoes. When I feel like my life is falling apart I need to know the person sitting beside me has experienced some “Woe is me” moments. Someone who can be selfless instead of ready for the next selfie; a church that isn’t afraid of repentance and forgiveness that are primers for praising and celebration.

But that’s just me! I’m admittedly ancient and have a hard time taking selfies of myself…not because I’m so humble, but rather because I’m not as smart as my phone!

One last burning question! When you’re about to take a selfie of yourself do you utter those words “Say cheese!”