“Painting from 1860 depicts a time traveler using her iPhone”

Did you see this headline and the painting referenced (boingboing.net/2020/11/16/woman-in-1860-painting-depicts-a-time-traveler-using-her-iphone.html)? Do you realize that more people find it easier to believe that this teenager is using an iPhone in 1860 than a young woman 15-17 years old is going to church intending to use a prayer book there? Equally unbelievable is that a male suitor would be waiting for her with a flower.

Young people, people of the age depicted in this picture, don’t believe there could be anyone communicating anything useful to this young woman in a prayer book. They know Google and Amazon, Apple, and Facebook watch over them, answer them, provide for them, but God? That isn’t just so last century irrelevant; it’s dark age’s crazy.

I’m reminded of the man being executed in Louisiana for murder. As he is strapped into the chair he strains against the straps, shakes his head violently back and forth, saying, “Save me Joe Louis; save me Joe Louis”(I first referenced this in an October 27, 2008 blog. I warned you: ten years or older is not repeating but referencing yourself.) The point is that this poor bedeviled, benighted soul knew of no higher power to call on in a circa 1940 world than the famous American boxing champion.

I can easily imagine a person having grown up with the “almighty” internet and the concomitant tech companies facing death and pleading for Apple, Google, Facebook, or Amazon to save them. Read Homo Deus, Yuval Harari writes how these tech giants are investing millions believing they can “solve death.” Adam Gabbatt documents this in a February 23, 2019 article titled “Is Silicon Valley’s quest for immortality a fate worse than death? “Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have pumped millions into Calico, a secretive health venture which aims to “solve death” (www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/22/silicon-valley-immortality-blood-infusion-gene-therapy).

The painting is called “Expected One”. The boy is expecting the girl, but the girl is expecting to commune with God in church. If 21st century clothes were put on the people, the boy would still be expecting the girl but the girl would be expecting to be in communication with a game, an app, others, or information, but certainly not God. So this picture does depict travelling of a sort. Just how far we’ve travelled from the Divine. He’s not even in our pictures anymore.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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