by Bob Wickizer

Keep Awake
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 24:37-44
2 December 2001

A leftover from my former work in computer science and imaging technology is the arrival every month of various trade magazines that continue to follow me in hopes of a sale. One of those magazines occasionally features the audio-video technology being adopted by some of the mega churches around the United States. I noticed recently that one advertisement for church seating notes that their top of the line church seats are better quality than opera house seating. Another article notes how churches seating 1,500 or more people are incorporating audio-visual systems into their construction costing in excess of $300,000. These systems typically include two giant screens and digital projectors the size of a small movie theatre screen. Speakers discreetly push enough sound into the congregation that the bass rattles your chest like a rock concert.

The preacher moves onto the stage and the cameras with giant screens on either side begin to roll projections of this talking head nearly the size of Mount Rushmore presidents. Way in the back, behind the pulpit, behind the preacher, behind the ten-piece band, behind the soloists and choir, you see the cross.

I have very mixed feelings about the use of this level of technology in churches. Yes, I recognize that the Church has always incorporated advances in technology for worship throughout its history. By the twelfth century churches throughout Western Europe began to install pews so that especially the elderly and frail would not have to stand during the entire two and a half hour service. (Yes, 2.5 hours.) Mediaeval churches made great use of stained glass and architecture to direct one's attention to God who was "up there" for that period. Later the Gutenberg Bible changed the course of the written Word and church history forever. But these quaint historic advances in technology all stopped short ...

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