One after another, boxes patterned like Holstein cows have been arriving at the Geranium Farm. This must be your laptop, Q says, as he brings another one up the stairs. I take it from him. Can't be. Too light. It turns out to be the carrying case for my laptop. And another, also too light: the surge protector for my laptop. And then the antivirus software package for my laptop.
Finally, yesterday, the longed-for laptop itself arrived, gleaming a space-age satiny silver gleam, thin and light, almost as light as an antivirus package or a carrying case. Impressive.
Do you have a fax number? The young man had asked me when I ordered the machine. I gave it to him, and told him that the first fax machine I ever bought had cost $2,200. That was a long time ago, of course, I said. It was probably before he was born. All he said was Wow.
I remember the magic of it, though, how interested everyone in the office was, how everyone crowded around to marvel at it, how a dreamer in the diocese said that maybe someday every parish could have one and we could all receive our mailings at once, notices of deaths and special events, all at the same time, watch the shiny paper curl out of our machines at the same time, hearing the guillotine-like slice of the paper cutters, bending down to pick up the missive and read, all at the same time. Wouldn't that be something?
My current fax machine hardly ever functions as a fax machine. It's also my printer and my copier, and it's a scanner, too, although I confess to not scanning very well yet. The fault is mine, though, not the machine's.
Another package arrives, smaller than I thought it would be, given what it is: it's my new memory. It came with instructions about how to put it in, but I have not done this yet. I'm a little intimidated, although the installation looks extremely simple -- you open the box, snap it in, and close the box, and you have twice the memory. So my computer's memory will double at the very same time that my own memory trickles away, a little more each day. More memory will make your machine run much faster, the young man said. I don't doubt that. Less memory certainly makes me run slower.
All the while this is going on, half the people in the world have yet to make their first phone call. What is the biggest challenge for preachers in the new century?, someone asked me once. Some panelists said it was post-modenism, and post-denominationalism. Interfacing with new media, and with a visual and virtual generation But, it's really this, isn't it? I said. Isn't it the same challenge we've always had, even worse now because we are so much richer? Isn't the greatest challenge the same one Jesus saw -- the chasm between those who have too much and those who have nothing at all? Isn't it that I get more and more machines, better and better ones, and they get to watch?