It’s a sign of the times. A few nights ago, I was out on our deck looking at a bright crescent moon with my granddaughter, Brileigh, age 4. I said, “Look at the moon. Isn’t it beautiful?” She looked for a moment and answered, “Yeah, but where’s the little boy that sits in the moon with his fishing pole?” referring to the DreamWorks film studio logo that you see before each of its movies.
It overwhelms me to think about how much has changed in our world and how we see it just in the time I’ve been on the planet. Everything from how we communicate to how we shop has been revolutionized by technology.
Television was new to American homes when I was born and color TV didn’t become a standard in each household until I was an older child. My dad wanted to see Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in living color and so he borrowed (on approval) a color TV from the local appliance store promising that he would either return it the day after Thanksgiving or pay for it. He paid for it and we had a color TV from then on. It was a large piece of furniture, and had no remote control. We had to get up and actually change the channels! But there were only three channels anyway so it wasn’t too bad. We later got cable that extended our line-up to ten channels. No video tapes. No DVD’s. No DVR’s. If you missed an episode of Bonanza or Gun Smoke, you could wait until the summer reruns and take your chances, but mostly you just missed it.
We had telephones, of course, but they had rotary dials and part of the time we shared a “party line” with our neighbors. No call waiting. Just a busy signal when somebody was using the phone (the phone that was hard wired into the wall.) No caller I.D. unless you count picking up the phone when it rings and asking, “Who is this?” Long distance calls were expensive but you could place a “collect call” which meant that the one who answered the call had to either accept the charges or not. You could call “station to station” which meant that you could talk to whoever picked up the phone or you could ask the operator to place a “person to person” call which means that if the person you are calling isn’t home, you don’t have to pay for the call.
Of course, there were no home computers and therefore no Internet. We wrote letters and put stamps on them and put them in a mailbox and then waited for a return response in days, maybe weeks. If there was an urgent message to someone far away, we could send a telegram.
Clocks ticked instead of humming and glowing with LED screens. Alarm clocks had a bell on the top that had a little hammer that hit it when it was time to get up, but you had to make sure you wound it up before you slept the night before.
Microwaves were not even thought of but we did have toaster ovens and toasters.
Shopping meant that you went into a brick and mortar store and looked for an item. If the store didn’t have what you wanted, you could place an order for it out of a mail order catalog. Sears and J.C. Penney’s had awesome catalogs that came in the mailbox twice a year and it could entertain me for hours as I dreamed of what I would look like in that outfit or how much I could enjoy playing with that toy. Placing an order meant filling out a paper order form and mailing it to the catalog center and waiting for weeks for the item to arrive.
Dennis and I have been in the middle of the changes in music and resources for the church for some time now. Because of technology and just general trends in how the churches use music nowadays, our little world of choral music printed on paper and sold to the church choir – one copy per person – is going away or at least diminishing drastically in sales. All publishers, writers, and arrangers are seeing the difference. We’ve decided that we don’t want to fight the trends even if we knew how but we are certain of this: the church will always sing! We still have an active calling from God to equip the church with music resources. It’s been our job lately to find out what they need and how they want to get it. Our new venture www.songsforthechurchyear.com is an online, downloadable resource that gives new songs for congregations, choirs, ensembles, etc. that follow the traditional church year – Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and so on. Hope you’ll check it out. We wrote a song not long ago called “Things Change.” The chorus lyric is this:
Things change in a moment
Things change/But our God never does/He is always the same
Things change in a moment
Things change/But our God never does/Even when things change
So it’s a new day and we have to find new ways to present the Word, because things have changed – even the way a little four-year-old girl looks at a crescent moon.