(Originally written in February of ’07)
Isn’t it great to be on the cutting edge of technological development? No, I’m really asking…is it great? I have never been there, so I don’t know. In fact…you may want to sit down for this…my wife and I just got our first digital camera. That’s right. It’s true. We were never on the cutting edge. I think we were using the blunt side. But, we are now on our way back.
For those of you who do not yet have a digital camera, there will be a therapy session at the community center next week. Call ahead to make reservations.
Now the most amazing thing that has resulted from the digital camera revolution is not how easy it is to share family memories, it is not the wonders of having current, personal photographs to give to friends in far-off places, and it is not the ability of insurance adjusters to deny your claims in record time. No, the most amazing thing about the digital camera revolution is the devaluing of absolutely everything. You may not understand how this could be, but just follow the logic here, and I will explain it.
Photography has come a long way. The first photographs were captured on film plates made of silver. This is entirely true. I’m not making this up. And, since silver was a little pricy, the cost of a picture was rather pricy. Eventually, scientific progress made its mark, even in the world of photography. New ways of capturing images on paper were developed, the film getting smaller all the time, until finally the art of taking photographs was made publicly accessible. But, even with the furthest advances in film photography, taking pictures still cost money.
As a result of the inherent costs in photography, a system was developed to determine if an object, person, or scene was special enough to be photographed. Though not documented in the scientific literature on photography, the concept of the “photo-worthiness quotient” was established. You know what I mean. With your good old 35mm camera you don’t just take a picture of anything. You only have so much film on you, and so much money to spare in developing costs. So, you make a reasonable judgment as to whether your grandmother or that massive largemouth bass is more “photo-worthy.” It is not my responsibility to make that judgment for you…but you see your grandmother at least once a year…you may not see that ten pound bass again.
Don’t misunderstand me. This “photo-worthy” system was a good thing. It helped us retain our sense of what is more important, more valuable, more astonishing. But, now that we have digital cameras that can take pictures at virtually zero cost (other than a small fee for batteries; but if you bought the right camera then you have hundreds of batteries at your fingertips: in the remote, the wall clock, your grandmother’s pace-maker…if you chose to take a picture of the fish instead of her, I’m sure she won’t mind loaning you the batteries; if you didn’t buy the right camera, then don’t expect to find batteries in your lifetime), we can take pictures of anything. There is no longer any need for the “photo-worthiness quotient.” We have lost a piece of our decency because we have lost part of our ability to judge what is noble and honorable in this world.
This is vividly illustrated by the fact that I was, just last night, using our brand new digital camera to take very fuzzy pictures of light shining through glass. I have no idea what good they will do me, but I just thought they would look neat. Where has my decency gone? I hope there is a therapy session scheduled in the near future.
As far as decency goes, I wonder sometimes if our world is in danger of losing it altogether. As Paul wrote in Romans 3:10-11 (citing Psalms 14:1-3), “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” If we stop seeking after God then we have lost our ability to judge right and wrong: for who else really knows what is right or wrong in every situation but God?
The problem is not necessarily obvious. We do not lose our decency or our ability to judge right and wrong all at once. Satan is more clever than that. We would stand up to such an apparent attack. Instead, we lose it in pieces, a little at a time to compromises and desensitization. Cultural “advances” make what used to be considered wrong more and more acceptable, and even more and more appealing.
This is where faith kicks in. Having understood what God wants and desires, we maintain our allegiance to His standard despite our own feelings and our own wishes. Our feelings and wishes usually just get in the way. For example, it is easier to see the faults of others than our own. Why? because our own faults are clouded by pride and emotions. We can’t let pride or emotions get to our morals, either. We can’t let cultural “advances” appeal to our hearts so that we lose our heads. We can’t alter what we know to be truth from God’s word just because we feel differently about it. That is exactly what Satan wants.
God’s standard remains true even when we don’t agree with it. Be careful to stick to the standard. Rely on God’s word, and don’t let your morals slip away. If it’s a little pricy, like taking pictures on silver plates, well, that’s okay; it’ll just help us maintain the right perspective.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go take some more meaningless pictures.