The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we suggest “Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)” from the film Sunlight. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.
“Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.’”
Meditation 23. 3,029,452 confirmed cases, 210,374 deaths globally.
Most of the summers during my childhood in California included backpacking in Yosemite National Park with my family or with the men from my church. We found ourselves at the feet of majestic waterfalls, on peaks in Tuolumne Meadows that stole our breath, or atop Half Dome or El Capitan when shooting stars were falling from the sky. Our souls were transported and we were moved to magnify God.
We tend to think differently of the artifacts of technology. We do not hold up our mobile phones, gaze at a supercomputer, or contemplate a PET scanner and find ourselves moved to sing praises.
In this pandemic, when so much of our experience of the world is mediated through technology, perhaps we need to shift our mindset. Many of the same technologies we cursed months ago for driving us apart we now bless for holding us together. Families keep close through social media and mobile apps. Schools convene over e-learning platforms. Small-group Bible studies pray and praise over Zoom. The church that streams together stays together.
There are reasons for caution when it comes to the uses of technology. The glowing screen can so captivate our attention that we have little left for matters of the soul. The constant consumption of entertainment can dull the deeper senses and atrophy the musculature of the spirit. Technologies can serve in so many ways for trafficking sin or delivering death or impoverishing our years of the full height and depth of life.
And yet, technology is a tool, and God himself gave us the gifts to devise it. The same technology that delivers depravity can also carry the gospel. The technology that lays cities to waste also empowers the world. The technology that broadcasts hatred and ignorance can also encourage love and coordinate its actions. The church has made use of countless technologies to spread the word of God, to heal the sick, and to serve the poor. Should we not give thanks for these things?
Monastic practices filled the lives of monks and nuns with habitual reminders of the lordship and love of God. The cross above the doorway. The ringing of the bell in the chapel. The daily offices serve many times a day as a sort of rhythmic remembrance to practice the presence of God.
What if technology could serve as such a habitual reminder for us? What if it could harness our attention and redirect it to, if not the author of these technologies, the one who is the author of the authors?
We were created in the image of a Creator. We were made to be makers. We were charged to make the order of the world more abundant and beautiful and hospitable to life.
After all, is it more remarkable that God made a mountain or that God made beings with the freedom, intelligence, and creativity to craft technologies that can connect every continent, heal all manner of disease, and feed the world? If we marvel at the inventiveness of the inventor, surely we can marvel at the creativity of the Creator who created the inventor?
If our hours are to be filled with these technologies, O Lord, let them carry our thoughts toward you. Let us thank you now for breathing intelligence and ingenuity into your children, giving them dreams and visions and talents, so we might use these technologies to maintain our fellowship and continue the work you give us to do. And when at last we have tests and treatments and vaccines, may we thank not only the technologists behind them but the Creator behind the technologists who filled them with such immaculate skill.
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