My phone, it seems, is dying … by degrees. It’s been getting slower. I thought it was the battery – and maybe it is – but that’s not easily replaceable. So over the last week or so all the various things I can use the phone for – texts, family-chats, photos, internet, tweets, emails seem to work and not work randomly. The phone shuts down when it wants and stubbornly won’t restart until it magically changes its mind. I receive messages but can’t send. It is all rather frustrating. The phone is simply unreliable and needs repair or replacement. But the ironic thing is that the one thing it still does and which hasn’t – touch wood! – caused me any problems – when it is on of course – is be a phone! It rings when calls come in and I can ring out. People can talk to me and I to them. So the phone is actually a phone! What am I worried about?
Well for starters that the decline will continue and then the phone won’t even be a phone. That at the back of my mind – maybe I’m imagining my children’s reaction to my latest engagement with technology – there’s a little scepticism about my ability to use technology bearing in mind Douglas Adams’ comment about technology (in The Salmon of Doubt) … “I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies: 1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. 2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. 3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
I imagine a teenager would have solved my phone problem pretty quickly. I don’t think smart phones are against the natural order of things (I take a utilitarian view of them) and I do wonder about their consequences but simply put I just want it to work with no – or very few – hassles.
I wonder in a western world of increasing secularism whether that is how people see God and religion. If God exists – if religions can demonstrate a cogent rationale for existence – then they might be a life accessory much like a smart phone for what they can do for us. And God of course can do many things! Good says many in the world – just do them when and where I need them. A ‘God app’ if you like.
Yes, God and religion for some people are part of the natural order of things; for others changes in God and religion are exciting and revolutionary; and for another group God and religion are against the natural order of things. ‘If God doesn’t have a utilitarian value that we can use – the ‘God app’ – then what is the point of him?’ asks the world.
The story of Jesus this week – from triumphal procession to death while wearing a crown – highlights his regal identity and answers the question about God. He – the King – sovereign – comes among us in peace to rescue us from oppression, suffering and death. Jesus doesn’t come to be served but to serve and to give his life for all people. The heart of the Jesus’ story was foretold by John the Baptist when he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Whatever else we might say about God and Jesus and Christianity – and there’s lots! – if we miss our sin and God’s grace – we’ve missed the point! GS