The (Beeping) Reverend

I recently saw an advertisement of an electronics firm bragging that they were the “beeper people.” When they unearth our society in future years, they will find the microelectronic signal boxes clamped around the hurried corpses of twentieth-century skeletons.

Let us pray our era will not be dubbed by future anthropologists as the age of the beeper people. Nothing annoys me quite as much as those offensive electronic gadgets that—while individually owned—disrupt whole audiences of people. Beeping and buzzing are offensive in church. Who has not been offended during the awesome silence before the final hallelujah of the “Hallelujah” chorus to find that in the three-beat rest a cheap watch in the tenor section is vigorously playing “The Yellow Rose of Texas”—not just the chorus, mind you, but the entire computerized piece.

Here, in the very house of God, beeps and buzzers are reigning over every silent moment, calling us in the joy of our worship lest we forget Texas Instruments Incorporated. Remember back when you had to ask, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Never again! Now, for every doctor present we hear a beep and a 10-word electronically nasal message asking them to call somebody, somewhere. Ten doctors in a church service is complete sermonic destruction. In fact, 10 doctors and 15 real estate men will make every worship service sound like the dashboard of the starship Enterprise.

But it is not physicians who most annoy me. I am most offended by “beeping reverends”—“hot-wired” shepherds who wear their electronic gadgets during the service. Preachers, long offended by beeping physicians and real estate salesman, should doff their beepers and join the race of those who are not so important that they ...

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