Lesson 7: Technology – Mobility

busy highwayI was standing at a rest stop on I-95 south of Washington, watching six lanes of traffic zooming at 70 miles per hour. When I asked my wife what people who lived 100 or 200 years ago would think if they could see this, she suggested people living 50 years ago would be overwhelmed. We take for granted so many of the benefits and problems that have come with the tremendous mobility technology has brought us.

That mobility allowed me to travel from the Outer Banks, North Carolina to Gettysburg. Pennsylvania in little more than half a day. It opens up all sorts of possibilities for bringing the world together, but also many difficulties.

For starters, technology creates an environment that accommodates its needs and pretty much controls our lives. Once you decide to go with the automobile, you need a wide network of highways. That leads to gas stations and fast food restaurants. The oil industry becomes critical as well as garages, the auto industry, tire stores, and on and on.

After investing so much money in this system, it is well nigh impossible to consider other alternatives, such as mass transit. In fact, it is difficult even to fund the necessary updates to this system. All six lanes were moving stop and go over half of my trip home, because politicians refuse to adequately fund improvements.

Of course, this has meant many challenges for the traditional church that has always depended on the familiarity that goes with neighborhoods. Once, people had a common belief system that developed as they grew up in one denomination among life-long friends. The parish church provided moral and ethical support and direction.

Now members are constantly moving in and out. Our own families are spread throughout the world. Those who have joined churches often leave denominational loyalty behind as they seek a congregation that meets their needs.

Often when people celebrate “life passages,” they return home for the ceremonies. Of course, this strains our theology. Most of those who promise to support the baptized infants will never see them again. Most of those who are confirmed leave the community a few years later. Those at marriages gather from all over for a day and then go their various ways. Mourners at a funeral do the same, often leaving the widow or widower to suffer alone. Promises of community support are pretty hollow, as those who make them will not be around to keep their word.

All this means we cannot operate as isolated local neighborhood churches any more. We have to see in new ways how catholic our community is. People from all over the world now depend on us to offer Word and Sacrament when they are among us for a day, a few weeks, or a couple of years. And that must include taking on ourselves promises made by Christians in other places.

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3 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Fritz Foltz says:

    You might be interested in some checking Scott did last month. I keep personal contact with about 60 people who have participated in some way for years. Most of them respond to the lessons by contacting me via e-mail. Scott says we have about 150 active users who visit the site multiple times each week.

    Surprising to me, 774 people in 65 countries visited the site last month. About 100 are from Asian nation. The largest groups are under 34 years old and atypically over half are men.

  2. Fritz Foltz says:

    Rita is the head of a Roman Catholic Women Religious order. She responded to the comment above by reporting her address to their international assembly. ” So in preparing my thoughts I focused upon the title, “It’s Everything Change,” and because my community, founded in 1970, continues to grow slowly and die rapidly, as most religious communities are currently doing, I shared that the future of SFCC (and the Church in general) is probably in the Developing World.  We have more women coming in from the Philippines than any other area of the world, and in June we received an email from four Sisters in Uganda who are interested in joining.  How did they hear about us?  Our website.

    This is the “new world” and the “Everything Change” situation for us.  Because we have no House of Formation or Motherhouse, women go through a Becoming Process in a mentoring situation with an affirmed member.  But we have nobody in Africa. The last person, an African Mother Teresa, died two years ago in Kenya. Women become SFCCs because they know one or more of us and the person attracts them, much like vocations came to communities for centuries.  But the new world is the computer.  With a web site that explains the community, how will we handle accepting women we have never met–except probably by Skype.  This is essentially how we met our newest member in India, but she travels to the US and came to our Assembly last year.  These women will not be coming here. And, unlike other communities, we must be self-supporting.  In the Third World that may be problematic for interested women.So technology and the Church has entered into a new era for us as well. “

  3. Fritz Foltz says:

    Below is Lupe’s comment on the new technology. I especially liked her insight that God is seen in both the vastness of the universe and the singularity of each individual.

    Dear Fritz,
    Technology has challenged “traditional” faith tenets in many ways, over centuries now.  We -in general- do not believe in Adam and Eve as a couple, but as an emblem of humanity.  We certainly could not fit the tens of thousands of living animal species into an Ark, whose dimensions were so lovingly determined and dictated to Noah.  Again, it is an emblematic story of salvation through faith.  Already Galileo challenged the perceived “centralness” of our world, and during the twentieth century and in our days, the world has continued to shrink in comparative terms, as our perceptions of the galaxy and the universe (universes?) have changed.  Does that mean there is no God?  As I have argued before, to me this means God is truly omnipotent, truly infinite in power, truly omniscient in ways we have not yet discerned.  If He “kicked off”the Big Bang, why should we then limit his power and omniscience by arguing there is no real intention in the design?  And why should be be bothered with the Universe being billions of years old, when He is eternal?  

    What happens, to me, is that the original concept of a Deity that looks over your shoulder to make sure you don’t eat pork does not work, and that I cannot find the words or concepts (aside from quanta and other equally abstruse terms I can hardly grasp) to express this newer, infinitely larger concept of God.  And yes, once more, why should we limit Omnipotence to gigantic universal creation?  Why believe He cannot keep track of the small things or care about us, His creatures?  The problem here is that my mind is not large enough to encompass an incredible light I can perceive, but not understand.  This does not negate faith… it simply motivates it toward something greater, not yet understood but clearly manifested.  

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