Monday, 24 January 2011


'Out of Jurassic Park' -a journey from the raw, the primitive, the simple into a very different kind of world -one which is more sophisticated, more efficient because it's more technological. And now I'm asking myself if this is progress. I've reached that cranky stage in my life when I'm pining for the good old days when I was easily satisfied with what I had. By modern standards that was not very much!

Time was when all that was needed for writing was pencils or steel nibs, bottles of ink, sheets of paper, and, lastly, blotting paper. Then came that break-through moment that was to impact every scribe and scribbler...the appearance of the Biro ball pen. At first this was taboo at school; now it's the normal tool for writing.

Those of us who still prefer the fountain pen are now frustrated because it seems nowhere sells blotting paper. So often my enquiries meet with, 'What is it?' 'Never heard of it!' How the world's moved on, and I've stayed still...still in Jurassic Park!

My introduction to a typewriter came when I had to 'fill in' for a sick priest. In his presbytery was a splendid, massive, solid object. Its proud owner boasted it was nearly thirty years old and still served him well. Mechanically there was nothing mysterious about it...simply a combination of levers and springs. I was comfortable with it. I could understand it. I could fix most of its ailments with the aid of rubber bands, bent paper clips and springs salvaged from broken toys. Finally, an occasional squirt of '3-in-1' oil. I felt in control.

Was it progress or weakness that I fell for the advantages of a word-processor? This, I persuaded myself, would greatly assist me, the dabbling journalist. With this, at the touch of a few keys, I could shift around paragraphs and re-arrange sentences. No longer would I have to erase or replace...over and over again. This level of progress was deeply satisfying for me. I looked for no more.

I long resisted all blandishments to 'go computer.' Was this out of fear of a new technology or a smug humility, that, unlike my twin, Isidore, I could manage without this expensive 'toy'?

Hurricane 'Ivan' changed all this. This mega-storm destroyed my home -the presbytery -my clothing, my books and my everything.

I could either return to the days of pen and paper, but, sadly, no blotting paper, or enter a world I had shunned -that of the computer. Forget about the word-processor. By that time it was pretty well obsolete. Circumstances dragged me into the laptop culture. I must concede I'm most grateful for what I can accomplish with it. Still, I'm not comfortable with it. I don't understand what is going on inside it. I can't repair it when it falters. I'm utterly dependent on it functioning all times. It's moody, capricious. It refuses to oblige. I'm furious and frustrated when texts suddenly and totally disappear from before my very eyes, without my doing a single thing to send them on their way.

Ever since I became computer-wise I've been driven to anguished prayer. Baffled, inadequate, I'm humbled that my dependence on my computer has made me increasingly and utterly dependent upon God, in a way I'd never foreseen. In His name I bless, absolve and pray for my computer.

Just to create an interlude of spiritual serenity I've considered banishing my computer, sending into exile, for the coming Lent. I feel this self-denial might purify my soul of attachment to such modern gadgetry! But Isidore, my twin -a wise old bird (which I am not) -and something of a computer nerd (also which I am not), urges me to forget such strange and quirky spirituality. He argues there would be something wrong with a spirituality which impeded my preaching work.

Indeed, I shudder at the very thought of ever having to return to pen, ink and paper. I quake at the prospect of being deprived of Google Search and so having to find appropriate reference books in libraries. I recoil from the task of scouring through them for the information I need. So much hacking and grafting has gone into the composition of this blog...It's the same for every blog that the two of us write for this series.

Dear Lord, don't let it be yourwaymyway that I should have to return to Jurassic Park!
I'm now so disenchanted with it!
Peter O.P.

In a fortnight Isidore will reflect on meeting God by 'Taking the Long View.'

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