Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Idolatry of the Cell

I'm feeling a little conflicted about my cell phone. It's a camera-phone, which is great. It allows me to store photographic memories of my travels, which is great. It allows me to set a screen poster of my own creation, which is great. So far, so great.

I visited Warehouse 2:42 while I was in Charlotte this past winter, in the hopes of conscripting two of their members to write books for me and my employer. (One down, one to go. :) While I was there I used my cell phone to take a picture of the cross outside their church. So far, so great. Then comes Holy Week, so I set the photograph to be my screen poster. Pretty clever--pretty pious, no? But here's where my inner conflict enters the picture.

In the center of the crossbeam on my screen poster, where Jesus' head might be found on a crucifix, sits the term Cingular. I tried to change the layout of the script, but Cingular stays locked in place.

Now, I have nothing against Cingular. I've gotten good service and nigh-on-miraculously few dropped calls. But I can't seem to shake the passing thought that this photograph set as this phone's screen poster conveys the message that Cingular died for my sins. That seems idolatrous.

But it gets worse: thinking about the notion of a cross branded by Cingular like some Nascar helmet makes me chuckle. That seems sacrilegious.

But perhaps it's time for one more confession: I don't like talking on the phone. And I hate the pressure of being constantly available by phone. So it's actually a good discipline for me to be reminded just before I use a phone that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. That seems like a good safeguard against the sin crouching at my door, so to speak.

So on the one hand, I want to leave the cross where it is. On the other hand, I want to drop it like it's hot. What to do, what to do . . .

8 comments:

Web said...

All I can picture right now is Jesus standing by you while you're on your cell phone. He's tapping you on the shoulder and whispering, "Can you hear me now?"

Of course, you can't hear him because you're on the phone...

David A. Zimmerman said...

Well done, Web. Wish I'd thought of that.

Charity Singleton said...

I think cell phones are actually just an alien life form that have come to earth to take over life as we know it. I think their doing a darn good job, too.

Great post.

Pete Juvinall said...

So is it bad that I chuckled as well? :)

Totally leave it up. I appreciate the humor with which God occasionally sends us messages.

--pete

Christianne said...

This was a hilarious post. (Though I feel sacriligeous just saying that.)

Thanks for stopping by my site. I'm wondering how you found me. Methinks me remembers you stopping by once before . . . sometime after I visited Chicago, no?

By the way, I appreciated your comment on my site about Luci's book. It does have a different taste to it than the others, though she's circling around the same themes.

David A. Zimmerman said...

Christianne: That sounds right. I got to you yesterday via Charity's Word on Words blog. You gave me an idea for today's "Meme of the Day."

Mr Steve said...

Colour me confused. I'm not quite sure I see the connection between sin crouching at your door and using your phone, or being readily contacted through your phone.

If sin was crouching outside my door - as opposed to the scorpions, tarantulas, and black widows that inhabit the Sonoran desert - I would want to have a phone at arms reach. Perhaps I've been out west too long and imagine myself as a phone slinger with a quick draw with super speedy dial capabilities. That and the fact that spring has settled in and will soon be transitioning to summer-esque temperatures has set my mind wandering.
Is it sacriligious to imagine a van pulling up to my house, two guys in workman's overalls spraying holy water around the perimeter of my house to provide a protective barrier that not only deters sin from getting in but latches onto it to follow it back to the nest and killing the hive from the inside?

David A. Zimmerman said...

It's a metaphor, silly! Sure, it's a mixed one . . .

OK. Here's how I fix it. Getting a phone call is like getting a knock at your door. Looking at your cell-phone's display is like looking through the peephole. You can't see the sin because it's crouching--like the kid in my church's youth group that likes to go ding-dong-ditching. But you can't ding-dong-ditch when Jesus is standing there knocking; nor, for that matter, is it advisable to swing open the door and shout in full outside voice: "You #*#&%! kids get off my *#)(%)^&@ lawn!" So the presence of Jesus confronts the sin that tempts and the sin that's already taken up residence.

Holy *$&#&%*^ I am so *(%*$*# spiritual.