Friday, February 18, 2005

From Troy....

...on a liberal Christian list I'm on...

I'm enjoying Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The book was the basis for the film Blade Runner. The novel follows Deckard, a special-ops cop in San Francisco, whose job is to "retire" renegade androids built by the Rosen Association. The androids were built as "help" for humans colonizing other worlds. A few humans remain in post-WWIII San Francisco and its oppressive dust and slowly dehumanize. Deckard rises each morning and uses his "mood organ" to program whatever appropriate "moods" into his brain for the day. Humans refer to androids condescendingly as "andies". The movie refers to them as Skin Jobs. So perfect in design and flawless in execution are these droids that their only "glitch" is the inability to completely empathize with humans and animals. Empathy Tests are used to weed out droids and exterminate them. Deckard is looked down on by his neighbors in the apartment building because they all have real pets and he has an electric sheep fenced into a grazing pen on the rooftop.

The enmity and outright hostility toward andies is quite clear. The androids become more and more human while the people, with their "mood organs", become less and less human. Droids are programmed with finite lifespans. They want quantity of life. Humans in San Francisco want quality of life and envy the droids their exotic adventures on colonial planets.

Deckard dreams of replacing his electric sheep with a real one. The converse question is, would androids dream of having electric sheep? Both sides, humans and droids, seek greater humanity from two different thrusts, the humans craving better quality of life and the droids seeking greater quantity of life. The lines between android and human quickly blurs.

Now---I know this isn't the sci-fi board, LOL.

But look at the clutter of technology that daily programs us. Advertisements on t.v., radio, billboards, in schools, on buses, in school buses, on the internet, in magazines. We're told what the "current trends" are and conditioned to accept those trends so the commercials can further tell us what to wear, what to drink, how to diet, who to watch on t.v., which politicians to believe, who to trust, who to hate. We're being slowly programmed into "electric sheep". How would Jesus go about tending his flock of "electric sheep"? Sheep who see material trinkets as more humanly comforting than other humans can be? We see the commercialization of Jesus, stores that sell Testamints and dashboard saviors and lip balm in a cruciform box called Cross Gloss, we see Jesus theme parks. A wonder they don't call these parks Six Flags Over Salvation. All that's missing is an actor, as Jesus, doing a commercial-break promo for an upcoming movie on the life of Christ, who stabs a finger at the t.v. audience and says, "Tonight on NBC! Be There!"

I'm not suggesting a complete "technology fast", though many go this route with no regrets. But some impurities need to go. The internet can be either a great tool of learning and connection with others or can fast become our only connection to others, connection to people who are known only as log-on names and writing styles, in essence, electric sheep. I avoid t.v. as much like the plague as I can unless t.v. offers an occasional good documentary. I'm sitting here at my computer armoire and wondering---how in the hell did I surround my walls with 5,000 VHS and DVD movies? Oh, gee, here's one I haven't watched since the Earth cooled. There's seven more I've never watched. There's another fifty I'll never get around to watching.

Technology is like border-line junk food that still has nutritional value but must be ingested in moderation. This world is becoming so fast-paced that suicides rise, footprints on the backs of others become our stepping stones, and none dare to stop and savor a rare moment. Jesus is all about "human connection", about family fellowship around the dinner table in place of a Hungry Man XXL in front of NBA basketball. It's easy to see how we become electric sheep when the attempts to commercialize Jesus try to turn him into an Electric Messiah.

I guess all I'm saying is slow down now and then, savor a moment with all five of the senses, experience life in place of brushing past it. Find new human connections. Restrengthen old ones. It is within those connections we'll find Christ waiting, and where we'll find peace.

I'd say "we'll find Goddess waiting" but the sentiment is the same. I do agree that in so many ways, technology has really started to strip humanity of its -- well, humanity.

I don't have a cell phone.

I don't have TiVO.

I don't even have cable TV.

I don't have a dishwasher. (My apartment didn't come with one.)

I don't have an iPod.

And I like it this way.


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