I’ve done quite a lot of traveling over the past few weeks – over 2,500 miles of driving through nine states followed by a week in the Texas sun learning new building and construction techniques. On the way to San Antonio, we flew through Houston and as always, I had that awkward experience associated with plane flights.
As I made my way through x-rays and security arches and long tile corridors with echoing loudspeakers, I noticed that most individuals carry gadgets and gizmos that preclude social interaction. Ipods, cell phones, laptops and books occupy the majority of available arms as everyone shuffles off to wherever they are going; yet, they rarely seem interested in conversation. Earbuds say “I’m listening to something else other than you right now.” Faces buried in intense reading broadcast a “Do not disturb” door hanger to all within ten feet and hurried tapping on computer keys tells everyone that you are busy. It is interesting how the very same technologies that aid us and help create new social venues also facilitate a new type of virtual cocooning.
This techno-inwardness has peculiar implications in evangelism for even though we seem to be more connected it is harder to meet naturally. Electronic webs seem to be strewn over once interactive spaces and despite being inches away; we don’t talk to each other anymore. The nuances of body language and inflective speech have been overtaken by ‘crackBerries‘ and a new texting code has emerged as standard communique. This same phenomenon exists inside elevator cubes as well, where small crowds stand together as tall pines and yet most hardly ever mumble a word.
Finding a way to enter the silence becomes evermore difficult when chitchat seems to be dying a quick wifi-death. On the plane, I did manage to speak to a man who was reading a book by Hitchens entitled God is not Good. As he bowed his head into the pages, I curiously asked questions about the title and engaged him in an irenic conversation about life, the true nature of God and social justice. It is possible to naturally penetrate the ever-growing social techno-cubists and the interesting part is that we do so in the same fashion that Christ, Paul and the other early evangelists and believers did – we exercise humble boldness, true compassion, and listen while we speak the truth of the Gospel in love. Communications and societal paths may change, but the Truth never waivers.