Friday, July 24, 2009

Technology and God

It's only 4:30 am and it's already been a strange morning. First, I had a disturbing dream, then I got a text message at 3:52 am and finally the printer in our bedroom did a self-diagnosis that caused it to hum and rattle at 4:09 am. At a minimum, I got the message that I'm supposed to be awake now.

I dreamed that all of our technical team at church was on vacation and someone else was preaching at the church. I was not preaching but was in attendance. The microphones went silent. The technology failed. Yesterday, I sent an email to our worship team about being smooth with transitions in worship and the need to remove awkward moments in worship services. In my dream, worship was anything but smooth. I tried to adjust the microphone receiver and made it worse. Not only could you not hear the speaker, but now we had radio interference coming over the house speakers as well. At one point we were even picking up television signals. Hey, it was a dream. Plausibility is not necessary. After a very awkward attempt to walk to the room behind the platform for batteries that involved the back entrance to the platform being blocked and the need to walk back in front of the pulpit and out the side door, I finally found some batteries. Apparently, this was the problem. Someone else made the same trip in front of the congregation to help find them. Meanwhile, the preacher and congregation sat in awkward silence. No one was pattering, no one suggested singing, and no one left. All in all, it was a disturbing moment for someone like me who cares deeply about people in the church encountering God in worship. They encountered technical failures and human foibles, not God.

It was my iPhone that woke me up. I get a text message when my daughters change their Facebook status. It is one way I can feel connected to them in their busy young lives. My daughter posted a status update at 3:52 am. Something about her Facebook language being changed to French and how Pirate was a language option. This morning was starting off weird.

About the time I settled back to an uneasy doze, my printer did something I've never heard or seen it do. With no computer hooked to it, with no capabilities for network printing, at 4:09 am, it randomly did a system check. The last time it was used was about 6:00 pm the evening before. In my foggy state of mind, the first thing I thought of was horror movies. Maybe the printer was going to print out a message of doom, a prediction of some traumatic event, or an apocalyptic premonition of the end of the world. I think I've read too many books and seen too many movies with those themes. Now, I was imagining it happening to me.

I am sitting here wide awake a half hour after the weirdness began wondering what to make of it all. What does my trust in God have to say about such dreams of worship technology train wrecks, being awakened by technology and a rogue printer with apocalyptic premonitions? In the best of the ancient Hebrew mind, I now wonder what all of this means.

I have been thinking a lot about the act of corporate worship, so it's no surprise I'm dreaming about it. However, I think it is something more than dreaming about doomsday scenarios in worship. I've also been thinking a lot about life and death (witness two posts ago which had to do with both as well as another dream). My friend Martha Brown passed away last week. Tomorrow we bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ and her resurrection to new life with Christ after physical death. We will celebrate her life tomorrow. Somehow these thoughts of technology meltdown have to do with issues like life and death.

I am a big fan and user of technology. I Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blog, podcast, subscribe to multiple RSS feeds, surf the Internet, use graphics, slides and videos for presentations including during worship/preaching and read books and other printed materials constantly (printing was a revolution in technology back in the day). I max out my iPhone in applications as well as usage. My phone even has automatic updates to my computer on which I now type. If I change one piece of information in either one, the other device is automatically updated. Suffice it to say I am a fan and user of technology.

I am a fan, but I did not accept technology into my heart as my Lord and Savior. I am not in a personal relationship with my iPhone or computer or Sennheiser body pack with a Countryman over-the-ear microphone. Those are all tools to help with the primary concern of mine. Maybe the dream, text message and rogue printer were all there to remind me of my priorities this morning. My primary concern is God and people. God is the greatest priority, not technology. My calling is to please God by helping others have a strong and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Everything else is in a support role, including technology. I guess I just needed a little less sleep this morning to ponder that very thought.

Maybe you need that reminder too today.