Saturday, September 25, 2010

Technology and Clergy

Technology and Clergy
Fr. Dale Matson

With my announcement that I had ordered a new computer, my clergy colleagues became concerned that it would cause such a drain on the power grid that they won’t be able to use their computers. They were probably imagining Clark Griswold plugging in his Christmas lights when I fire up my new computer for the first time. It will be state of the art at least for a week anyway.
When I think of the monasteries of the church, I think of solitary monks bent over manuscripts painstakingly illuminating copies of older works. When I think of clergy today, I often visualize them bent over a computer screen working on a homily, trying to fit a budget item into a cell on an Excel spreadsheet or trying to add one last new contact or calendar entry into a smart phone before the battery dies.
While clergy in general are more likely to be introverts than the general population, in a 2004 study (,
Michael Whinney noted that Sixty two percent of Anglican clergy are introverts. Perhaps this is why computers, the technology and the virtual communication are so attractive for us. When the Methodists left they took their method and their extroversion with them.
This is not intended as an indictment of those of us who wrestle with the technology. Like Jacob we have gained a blessing but we must limp knowing that software is time limited grace. For example, my dissertation was done on Word Perfect 4.2 and saved on a 360 kilobyte floppy disc. This would not accommodate a single photograph from a standard digital camera today. I can still vividly remember marching down with other faculty to the bowels of a computer lab to be instructed in how to compose and send e-mail.
Although technology can be counterproductive, I believe it can also be a very useful tool. Roman roads provided access for soldiers who conquered people in distant lands. These same roads also enhanced communication, commerce and even the spread of the Gospel message. Technology allows me to bid consultants such as Augustine and Clement to help me write a homily. It allows me to send information to parishioners, clergy and those seeking Holy Orders instantly. Documents can be sent, filled out and signed, scanned and returned in minutes. I recently watched the Archbishop of Canterbury kneel alongside the Pope before the altar as it occurred. I can access "YouTube" and be inspired once again by a young Billy Graham.
I can watch and be convicted by Paul Washer who is one of the greatest preachers of the 21st century.
And finally, I can watch my grandson and children in Kentucky on Skype until we can visit them in person. Yes, technology can enhance my study, ability to communicate and my relationships with others. There are certainly pitfalls and perils to technology but keeping up also helps this old priest remain adaptable and in the mainstream. May Christ also be found by those who seek him and may technology assist in that search. Amen

No comments: