I used to think about all the changes that the generations before me had seen. In the mid-1980s, when I first became a pastor, an elderly man, who grew up on a farm, told me of his first seeing an airplane. He told me his father and brothers were working in the field when they heard a noise coming from the woods. They looked to see what it was. One brother pointed to the sky, and there it was, an airplane. This older gentleman told me he thought the Lord was coming.
I just turned 60. To think about the changes in my life is amazing.
I loved science fiction as a young person, so conceiving of what could be did not seem unbelievable. But I still have found each new invention that has come into my life amazing. I’m doing things I couldn’t have imagined years ago.
I was close to my grandmother, who was born in 1897. My grandfathers all died before I was born, and the other grandmother died when I was very young. I do have deep generations in my family. But the one I knew, my mother’s mother, was my second mother. She didn’t grow up with a telephone at all. Her father, who was born in 1854, was the Sheriff of Page County, Virginia. He traveled by horse in his work.
I grew up with a landline telephone; it was a party-line, which meant that the line was shared with neighbors. Each house-hold had its own ring. My grandmother’s ring was four-short rings. If we heard one long ringing sound, or just two short ringing sounds, one of our neighbors was being called.
In the early 1990s I saw the first cell phones. I remember when my wife and I bought our first phone. You had to pay for every call by the minute. If you traveled far, you had expensive roaming fees. I remember when we were getting our first phone, and the salesman was explaining the roaming fees, I said, “You mean if I’m in California and someone calls me, I’ll get the call?” My frame of reference was a two-way radio. I thought that the phone had a specific range. It seemed, maybe not unbelievable, but amazing.
When I was young, in science fiction shows and movies you would see a computer that filled a whole room and had parts that visibly moved as the computer computed.
But since the 1990s I’ve had a personal computer. At first it was mostly for work, but it wasn’t long before I enjoyed having it for personal use as well.
At about the same time I’ve been able to get on the world-wide-web. It used to be I could go to a library to get information, some of which would be dated. But over the last 20 or so years, I have access to up-to-date information.
As I write this article, I am autosaving it in the cloud, which means offsite. If the laptop I’m using crashed, the info is saved. I can access from another computer, my iPad or even my iPhone.
Which brings me to another subject: the smart phone. It’s well beyond a phone. It’s a small computer. I have immediate access to any type of immediate information at my fingertips. I have access to more information than the President of the United States would have had a generation ago. I say it again, “amazing!”