Drew Green is a freelance Web author and computer consultant with a background in Philosophy and Religion. He recently spent three years working with Ursuline Companions in Mission and living with Franciscan friars at Mt. St. Francis, IN.
As I write this letter to all of the members of the electronic community, I sit and wonder what all this means. What are we doing with this technology? Are we just doing it to appease our intellectual curiosity? To recreate? To pontificate?
Are we helping anyone with all this technology? Are we feeding people, or housing the homeless or clothing the naked or visiting or comforting or anything the gospel says to do? No, clearly not.
What we are doing is spreading the word through a new way. When Gutenberg began printing Bibles with a press, it was thought that the press would signal the end of art and usher in all sorts of horrible things. What it did do is to expose more people to the Word of God than ever before and make possible mass evangalization on a scale scarcely dreamed of in Jesus' time.
We need to remember that the technology is not the message. The message must always be that of God's enduring love for mankind made manifest in the person of his son Jesus Christ. I am one who can fall prey to isolating myself in front of the monitor to the exclusion of everything else. As I sit here now, my on-line clock says I have been connected for 2hrs 33min this session. That makes about 7 hours total on a Saturday in May. Think about that, 7 hours indoors on a beautiful May in front of a computer monitor.
This is the sort of thing that can afflict many well meaning Christians with a technological bent. We can get sucked into the electrons and never get anything done. Is this why Jesus died for us? So we can smugly do things that 97% of the rest of the world cannot? Obviously not.
But then, does this mean that the technology we have cannot be put to good use or is not good in and of itself? No, it means that like all things, it has it's place in our lives and it needs to be balanced along with everything else we do. The World Wide Web is the greatest means for transmitting information the world has ever known. With it, we can communicate with others all over the world, we can know about Human Rights abuses as they happen, we can let each other know which agencies have the most need for volunteers, we can research scholarly pages of church history and spiritual writings. But what do we do with this font of information? Are we making use of it in actuality? Are we getting up off our chairs and going down to the soup kitchens, the clothing warehouses, the shelters, the job training centers, the places the poor frequent, to help? Are we?
I do a lot of researching of the Web for schools, individuals and orders. That sometimes puts me in front of my computer for up to 12 hours a day. Aside from needing a new prescription for my glasses, it doesn't hurt me much to be here. And truthfully, what I do benefits a lot of people. Professors and Pastors give better lectures and homilies because of information I can provide, students write better papers and learn more from links I provide. I write better HTML and technical papers due to on-line study. But, when I am here, I am not out among God's people doing what Jesus told us to do.
I have often said that everything I have done in computers isn't worth as much as sitting with someone for an hour listening to them. Just listening. Being a friend. Sharing their life, their joys and pains. Being the visible sign of Christ's love for us and being church and community.
I need to remember that nothing is as important as people. Jesus died for us. Not for our jobs, cars, PC's, soccer games, or television. He died for us. And it's up to "us" to reflect that love back to each other face to face, and not through the glare of a monitor or TV set.
Human interaction is the most messy thing you can ever do. It also happens to be the most enjoyable thing you can do!