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  • "A Musing Pastor"

What Have We Become?

Is the world getting worse or is the world as dysfunctional now as it was 5,000 years ago? Good question.

In a world filled with voice activated devices that help us do practically everything, surveillance

cameras that follow our movements almost everywhere we go, and anti-theft devices on sweepers, the

world is a strange place to live... Yes, I said "anti-theft devices on sweepers". What have we become?

Today, I went to a big box hardware store to look at sweepers for the church. I was on my 'smart' phone

checking customer reviews of several prime machines I was inspecting. Out of curiosity I

reached up above my chest to the shelf and began slowly turning the boxes to view all the accessories and

features of each machine. I wanted to get one with a powerful motor, directional head, and oodles of

attachments. Oh, and I wanted to get a moderate priced machine.

At some point of the inspection, I grabbed the $500 model box and began rotating the box. The box is

about 40 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and approximately 15 inches deep. The weight I would have estimated

to be about 25-30 pounds.

As I read the feature list and turned to the next box panel, a shrill piercing squeal began. I hesitated and

tilted my ear and wondered, "What is that sound in the next aisle?" Not stopping to investigate the noise, I

continued the inspection. In about 40 seconds a store associate came to my aisle, walked in front of me,

and began searching the boxes. How rude, I thought. The man then pulled the $500 machine box

forward and deactivated the anti-theft alarm. Imagine my surprise when he informed me I had activated the

alarm by simply turning the box. I felt a little stupid. I offered my apology for causing a commotion.

He and the other associate received my apologies as though it is a common occurrence. They then

informed me that the store has done extensive studies of all their products and have ear-marked quite a few

items that are often shoplifted. Hmmm, how does one lift a 40 inch by 12 inch by 15 in box weighing

upwards of 30 pounds and walk out of a store without paying for it?

I could see the scads of plumbing hardware that are small enough to conceal in the palm of your hand or

a hundred other items. But a large sweeper box? Apparently, their studies are convincing enough to install

anti-theft devices on them. Who knew this? I didn't. My only point of gratitude about the incident is that

the store didn't complete the anti-theft procedure and install the dye bomb to explode when I pulled the box

off the shelf.

My dilemma thickened as I narrowed the purchase down to a particular model. I looked at the associate

across the aisle and approached her to ask the dumb question. I said, "I want to buy one of the sweepers

over there but don't want to set off the alarm. How do I manage that without all the commotion?" She

seemed to be a bit disconsolate as she walked over, asked which sweeper I wanted, and then proceeded to

get it down for me. She then explained the model I chose to purchase was not banded so therefore it had no

anti-theft device. (Insert my disconsolate look here....) She dryly looked at me as though I was dumber than

a rock and walked away.

My cynicism and sarcasm began to grow a little and I mused the whole way through the store what would

happen if I waltzed on out through the door without paying. What would happen? What would the

newspaper headlines read tomorrow? What have we become that sweepers need to be tagged with devices

to keep criminals from making the world cleaner?

It has become clear to me the world has been broken for some time. The level to which it is broken is no

more or less now than when the Fall occurred in Genesis. The means of dysfunction seem a bit more

sophisticated now than then. King Solomon nailed it when he contemplated the nature of newness. There

isn't anything new under the sun. Sin or evil is now as it has always been. The question, "what have we

become?" is less critical than what we can become. Those who feel swallowed by the broken world are

commanded to follow one who said he would overcome the world. Who is that? It's Jesus who has made it

clear that who we are in him is a new creation not willing to kill someone with a rock or steal a large box

filled with a multi-directional head, strongest motor on the market, sweeper with oodles of attachments.

"All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear

filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is

nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in

the ages before us." (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10, NRSV)

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