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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pocket Library

One of the things hurricane Hermine left behind last week was a mess in our church library. The roof over the library had major leaks and water completely ruined the ceiling and carpet. At a church workday last Saturday the still soaked carpet and padding was removed, books were boxed up, and shelving was disassembled. For some people it was the first time they had ever been in the library, or even knew it existed.  This all prompted the question - do we really need a church library anymore?

As books came off of shelves the vast majority of them were deemed outdated and no longer usable and a few were put aside to make available on other shelves in a conference room in another, more accessible, part of the building. Most of the books, including numerous biblical and theological reference volumes and and collections, have since been donated to several thrift stores and library sales.

This all has me thinking and wondering about the availability of information in our world today, and how we carry this access around in our pockets and on our wrists. For example, in our church's Wednesday Study last night there was an obscure word in one of the biblical passages.  Instead of waiting until I could get to a bible dictionary in the library, I pulled my phone from my pocket, "googled" the word and within seconds had the meaning. This kind of access to instant information has become so common that we rarely stop to consider how amazing it really is.

When I was in seminary only 25 years ago I needed all of those references on the library shelves. Today they are only a few keyboard clicks or a question to Siri away. Everyone in the developed world under 35 years old can hardly, if at all, remember it any other way.

I truly believe we are living in one of the most amazing times of human history. This is both a privilege and a challenge because along with the availability of information comes the responsibility to use it wisely, creatively, compassionately, and judicially, not only for our own convenience and edification but for the common good of all people as well as our common home, planet Earth.

So, in a matter of minutes and key clicks my thoughts will be on the way to your pocket or desktop library. What an extraordinary privilege and responsibility to be so personally connected.


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