I am just as nostalgic as the next guy. I like to visit old churches, and especially the painted Catholic churches built in Texas in the 1800s. I am not sure why, but there is just something comforting about sitting quietly surrounded by history. Maybe it is the thought that all before us had to deal with the same sins, endure the same struggles, and avoid the same temptations, even if they might all be a bit easier or a little different in packaging now with technology.
Truth be known, it is really my decorating style. I like mixing the old with the new in my home, and in my outside offices of times past. I use to like to keep an antique Texas Reporter open to a Texas Supreme Court case describing negro people as chattle and discussing them in terms of property rights, on an old antique desk in the entry area of an office that was mainly modern design. It was not an affirmation of how things should be, but a reminder of how far we have evolved and how cruel we as a society could be.
I digress some, but I found the report by NBC News of the Italian inventor who combined his faith and technical ingenuity, and invented an electronic holy water dispenser for those attending Mass, and worried about catching the flu.
Sounds innovative to me, but I am sure it was roundly opposed by many. After Mass recently I found myself in a discussion with older parishioners of how, not in a religious context, computers, the Internet, video games and even TV were destroying the fabric of America. They knew this, I suspect, because they heard it so stated on TV and computers over the Internet. Needless to say, my church does not have a great history of timely embracing progressive ideas and technologies. It even persecuted Galileo, acting on directives of the Inquisition, from discussing his heliocentrism hypothesis (all celestial bodies did not move around the earth, but rather around the sun). And, the Church disapproved of his experiments using the new high tech telescopes.
And, who can blame those in the Church now. It is just human nature to oppose that which we do not know. We are more happy with the devil we know than the devil we do not. History tells us, however, that the Church or the majority has never won the fight against the integration of technology. We keep trying, however. We fought the typewriter as immoral after all.
Along these lines, I have never understood why the Church does not come into the modern age. Wear the garments of old if you will, and many of the traditional ceremonies are fine. As stated, I do not want to take away the familiarity of what really counts, but in this Third Wave age I have thought the Church is terribly inconvenient.
Printed materials? Catholics are not generally big Bible thumpers, although they are very concerned with The Word. As a result, they let the Bible lead the procession in to and out of Mass. Don't let me be stuck down, but I have often looked up and thought, a physical book? Why not a Kindle. Same for the readings. I have to sit there in disbelief while parishioners fiddle through the readings in a book to find what they are to read. Then they stand there and have to struggle with their glasses and the lighting not suited for older people reading anything, only to read to me in a speed meant for a kindergartner. Can we not have a back lit e-reader or LCD screen on the lectern, with large print for these people? The Word is The Word after all. Who says it has to be in book form. If it is originality you want, why should it not be scrolls or animal skins?
And, why must we continue to pass baskets through mass in which to place cash and checks? Who writes checks any longer? Why not just chisel them thing out of rock if you want to be authentic. As for cash, I always find myself remembering after I am already running late that I do not have cash, leaving me hunting for the nearest ATM. Just put a computer in the church where I can swipe my debit card and give a donation. Just cut the whole collection thing out of the Mass altogether and let people use the tech they are already using to make the gifts they need.
My last complaint. If newspapers are dying, then the bulletins Churches hand out after Mass should already be dead. I do not want one. I do not want to lug it home. Certainly promote the churches website, but this is typically a failed substitute because most church websites are not content rich. They should be. RSS, email updates, YouTube channels, text updates, and really the whole social media and networking options should be employed instead.
At Mass recently the parishioners were lectured because some where Twittering in Church while the Bishop was visiting. Shame on these people. I make a point not to. But, the bigger question is why are the Bishop and the priests and the Deacons not all Twittering? It is about time we come in from the dark ages.
Just do me and the planet a favor. Do not print one more piece of paper. Do not spend one more dime on postage for me. Consider it a sin. Accommodate me and the changing World, in these ways that really do not matter to our faith, and my though is the Church will be richly rewarded.