Top Ten 2011 Blog Posts


    I know I’m a year late, but as I began to assemble the top ten blog posts of 2012, I realized that there were a few from 2011 that still had value and might well be worth a second look.  Here they are, more or less in order of popularity.
1) God Will Destroy the Fat Cats – November 29, 2011 – A Blog about God’s desire to destroy the rich, well, not really… but sort of.
2) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 1 – February 9, 2011 – Part 1 of 4 – The first in a series that I wrote after the shooting of Gabriel Giffords.  Not really pro-gun or anti gun, just asking a lot of questions and thinking out loud.    The first two installments made the year’s top ten, but while part 3 was moderately popular, almost no one made it to part 4.  My lesson?  Even broken into pieces, this was just too long.
3) Happy Birthday Mr. Shea! – February 2, 2011 – A tribute to George Beverly Shea           on his 102nd birthday.  
4) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 2– February 10, 2011 – Part 2 of 4
5) Living Together, No Harm No Foul? – April 27, 2011 – Is living together normal, healthy, moral and responsible?  I’m sure you can find lots of people who think it’s a good idea, but, well, no. 
6) Seeing God in the World Around You – March 25, 2011 – A man I never met, weeps during my talk, wondering how I knew so much about his life.  I didn’t.  But God did.
7) 20/20 Blindness – March 31, 2011 – A blind man is thrown out of a restaurant because of his guide dog.  Apparently, humans are just as blind today as the Pharisees that Jesus knew.            
8) Christmas in January – January 4, 2011- I explain why our family still leaves our Christmas decorations us until the first week in January.  Not everyone celebrates Christmas on December 25th you know.
9) Too Busy for God? – May 25, 2011 – Do you plans for the summer, or for the New Year, include church.  If church is important to you, don’t allow it to happen by accident.

    In reality, there was a three or four way tie for tenth place.  Instead of picking one of those, or using all of them, I jump to the blog that comes after the tie because, even though it was read less often, it had more comments than any other blog of the year.  That’s worth something mentioning, I think.

10) A New Digital Divide – Who wins, who loses? – January 19, 2011 – As we become an increasingly technological society, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the people who are being left behind.
Honorable Mention) The Nightmare of Democracy? – February 14, 2011 – I include this, a blog that was written at the very beginning of what we now call the Arab Spring.  In it, I worried that the revolution in Egypt might not be such a great thing.  In the two years since, attacks on Coptic Christians and on the Coptic Church have increased and the government has shown little interest in preventing it.  Events are still unfolding in the Middle East and as they do, out brothers and sisters in Christ will continue to be in need of our prayers.

A New Digital Divide – Who wins, who loses?

    As an electrical engineer as well as a pastor, I still belong to my professional society and from them I still receive a monthly magazine that keeps me up to date on current happenings and trends in my field.  This past month, one of the articles I was reading speculated on the coming of a new “digital divide” because of rising smartphone usage.  According to this article, current trends indicate that by 2013, smartphones will represent 50% of the American market.  Since, at present, 82% of all Americans (not 82% of adults, 82% of all Americans) currently have cell phones, I take this to mean that by 2013, 41% of us will have phones in our pockets that will allow us to do our banking and watch YouTube anyplace we feel like it.  
    Even worse, our cell phones are likely to see a new feature in the next generation or so.  Technology has existed for a while that allows something as small as a credit card to act as a “key.”  You may have seen these as “smart cards” where your credit card can be used to “tap-and-go.”  Until recently, cost has kept this technology from becoming widespread but recent developments have dropped the cost so significantly that it is likely that we will soon see this technology added to our phones.  The end result is that, once widely implemented, we won’t need to carry our wallets; we will be able to use our cell phone to “tap-and-go” at McDonald’s instead.  Shoot, once this is widely adopted, this same technology might be used so that our cell phones take the place of our car keys.
So why is this a problem?
    What about everyone else?  Our church has recently begun digging into demographic information about the people in our area to give us an idea of how we can better minister to their needs.  These are the people in our community and the people that God has placed in our care.  Folks around here are not well off.  We live in the foothills of Appalachia.  When I saw these articles about a “new digital divide” I got to thinking and I started digging through the demographic information of the group that makes up the large majority of our local population.  
The results are frightening.  
    To give you a better idea of who I’m talking about, here are a couple of facts.  Seventy-six percent of this group earns less than $50,000 per year and 38% less than $25,000.  Two thirds of them live in homes valued at less than $100,000 and more than half in a home valued at less than $75,000.  These are not wealthy people.  Many are retired; most have a high school diploma or less.  While more than half own a computer less than a third have an Internet connection and less than 7 percent have broadband.
    
    While full of numbers and statistics, this begins to describe a group of people who are being left behind by much of our society and culture.  While the experts predict that smartphone penetration will exceed 50% of the market in the next two years, it won’t here.  Currently only 49% of this group even owns a cell phone, far less than the national average of 82%.  Even worse, less than one person in twenty can send and receive text messages and less than one in ten has Internet access on their cell phone.
    The development of technology and our culture are not going to slow down to let people like these catch up.  Before you simply write off the less-well-to-do in Appalachia, you might also remember that many of our parents and grandparents fit this description as well. Nearly a third of these folk say that computers confuse them and they have no plans to learn how to use them.
    So what happens when your cell phone is your car keys, your wallet, your road atlas, and all-around information portal?  Worse, what happens to grandma and a whole lot of others people when they can’t?  This isn’t simply a matter of training.  We can’t just offer class to help people catch up.  These folk simply can’t afford to get on the train.  What happens when technology and our culture leave them behind?  From a ministry perspective, how do we minister to the people who are being left behind?  I’m not sure, but we had better figure it out soon. 
    This train is already leaving and we don’t have much time.