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The last person

March 27, 2012

I have this goal for my life that may sound a little crazy but, having been taught that I need to dream big, I’ve decided to go for it.  It’s a long shot, I know, but I can’t reach it if I don’t try.  My goal is to be the last person in America who has never played a video game. 

My wife and I went into overseas missions when the term “video game” applied to a game called “Pong” in which this little white dot was hit back and forth on the screen by turning a knob on a controller.  We saw it, deemed it cute, and then ignored it.  In our overseas years we lived in a culture where video games were unheard of.  By the time we got back to the US there were all sorts of things that had been invented and become mainstream in society that simply bewildered us.

The re-education process was painful but necessary.  But eventually we learned how to use an ATM machine, a cell phone, a PC, and a VCR.  Sadly, no sooner had we learned that last one when we were forced to discard that knowledge and learn a DVD player and, now, a DVR.  We were aware that there had been this explosion in complexity and breadth of gaming as well but frankly didn’t have time for it.  We were too busy asking six-year-olds in a Sunday School class to put the mission video we wanted to show in the VCR and turn it on and watching closely and taking notes.

Since that time I’ve been in a perpetual race to catch up with things I’ve needed to know and, for the most part, failing.  A lot of this was technological.  No sooner had I learned to use a cell phone then I learned my phone was dumb and I needed a smart one.  It seemed as if there was always something everyone else knew or had used and I was left blinking like a man who had come out into the sunlight after 20 years in a cave.

In any event, now that I work with a lot of 20 something gamers, I’ve seen the look of incredulity on their faces when I mention that I’ve never played a video game.  It is almost as if I had said “A wheel?  I’ve never seen one, how does it work?”  It was then that I decided to turn this lack into a goal, reasoning that there might be some distinction to being the last holdout.

But there is a certain awkwardness in revealing ignorance of what “everybody else” knows.  This was particularly embarrassing in church stuff.  I was always finding out that I seemed to be alone in never having read “Left Behind” books or prayed the prayer of Jabez or having a WWJD bracelet.  But I have learned that it doesn’t pay to be in too much of a hurry to catch up with these things.  If you miss the surge of interest by the time you have done all the research and reading needed to catch up you find yourself ready to talk about things that are “so yesterday.”

And this has taught me to treat things that are so “now” with a grain of salt.  In the culture this is not so bad.  Will Twitter, in ten years, be what AOL is now?  Or will it be the foundation of all civilization?  Who knows?  But I do know that now has a way of becoming yesterday faster than I can breathe.

In church however the changes bother me.  I hear of new and exciting books, or trends on church growth or evangelism and wonder if I should get going and catch up.  Then I do some research to get started and find out that we’ve split into two camps on these subjects and are arguing.  Which movie should I see; “Courageous? or “Blue Like Jazz.”?  There are plenty of people to tell me why the other one is not only wrong but a real threat to the future of the faith.  I find blogs supporting all sorts of leaders and positions and others denouncing them.  I see whole online ministries devoted solely to telling me what is wrong about other ministries. 

Frankly, the idea of just waiting until everyone else has played video games seems a whole lot easier than making choices in a faith environment as confusing as that.  Maybe this is why so many unbelievers say no thanks when invited to join the party.  And besides, I really think I do have a chance at that video game goal.  But then again, my wife has never played one either and she is in excellent health.

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