Despite my tender years (did I mention that I am almost still quite young?), I can remember coming home from school on foot. I would return home and, if allowed, to watch a little television whose channels were changed by the pressing of an actual button (implying the physical removal off my dainty butt from the draylon sofa). As this happened, my dinner was likely being cooked on a hob or in an oven in a pan or similar. Afterwards, my siblings and I would war over the task of washing up the detritus of said meal in a bowl of sudsy water, tepid, full of food waste and other muck. If we were still alive, we may have been allowed to put the computer on - an activity that required the portable telly to be brought in, the keyboard plugged into cassette player, then to wait five full minutes while Jet Set Willy loaded. Those of my generation will remember how many hours of life were devoted to watching the flicking horizontal coloured lines on the telly as the game loaded.
Life was good then, back in the late 80s! Then progress went and happened. To make life easier and altogether more convenient, several things happened. After school (well, college by then) I could flick through the four channels with a plastic Mars Bar and not leave the comfort of the fitted covers. As I pondered the adventures of the TV heroes of the day, dinner would warm up in a split second in the microwave. After I bolted it down my gullet, I would sling the pots in the dishwasher and get on with my evening. That transaction might take as little as ten minutes before I was back before the Goggle Box. So much time saved!
And so it continued. Now, as a man in my very early forties, I can arrive home, sit down in my comfy chair, and with my gadget of choice order my dinner with a credit card, eat it from paper boxes which I can dump in another box. I can watch anything I like whenever I want, because I can capture and hoard television and instead of losing time writing to friends, can snatch moments of meaning from the telephone that is also my camera. Indeed, a character from a recent Bond film commented that he could do more damage to the world from his bed with a laptop in his pyjamas than ever before - and he is right. So many ways to save time, corners cuts, shortcuts taken. Instant, on-demand, in control, now, not later, buy-now-pay-before-you-die, 24/7! Frankly, if I extrapolate the time-saving attained simply delivered by a dishwasher in the 80s to the modern world, I must have another three or four hours a day to do what I want.
But I don't. And neither do you. Indeed, we are so pressed for time, we need even more time-saving inventions to allow us to cope. We can carve out 8 minutes by not boiling our rice in a pan of water but in a blister pack in the microwave. We don't even have to go out to socialize - you can find a spouse on line if you know where to look. We don't even need to go to the next room to speak to our nearest and dearest - we can text them! This hard-won innovative freedom never arrived. In fact, we have so little time that we cannot cope. It has meant that we are so on-demand that we demand everything on our terms - now. Love is on demand, and pizza too.
Little wonder faith is seemingly dying in our age. When my own punters get twitchy when they are forced to give God a minute over an hour, because of the myriad things that demand their sparse time, then I wonder if the world is melting in a mess of busy-ness whose end I cannot predict. I wonder too if this isn't a silent war that Christians should be fighting - to save people from task and duty! Indeed, it seems that so many of us in our religious ivory towers gnash our teeth wondering where everyone gets to half the time and why people don't or can't do more. Maybe faith is found in less. Maybe God is to be found in the gaps that we can create for people, not in the religious task that we seem content to impose at the expense of all else.
As Jesus passed along the South Embankment, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew emailing a programme patch to a client (from their iPads)—for they were IT consultants. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you Facetime for Disciples.’But they never left their tablets or followed him - they were busy and the client was waiting. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were on their Boris Bikes. Immediately he called them, but they were plugged into their iPhones having a chat with one another so didn't hear; and they left their saviour Jesus by the boats with the homeless men, and went about their business oblivious.