Friday, 12 January 2018

Change! What change?

Increasing change is the norm
The date of old photographs can often be determined by fashions being worn: man-wigs, flared trousers, beehive hairdos, turn-ups. But now there're several fashion changes each year, so dating today's pictures won't be easy.

Recently our capacity to communicate has increased amazingly, with new platforms coming on stream, and some morphing out of all recognition. So the norm is rapid comms evolution. The first mobiles were enormous, with batteries fading quickly. Now what could be done on a laptop a decade ago can all go through a smartphone, which can do many more things besides.

The rate of change in previous generations was slower. For example, telephones used pulses to dial up numbers through automatic electromechanical exchanges introduced in the 1900s. These operated until 1970s, when tone took over. That's the same technology for decades, which would be impossible today. There are amazing Artificial Intelligence systems just around the corner.

Some things can't change
The truth is just that, true, so it doesn't vary. At a time when fake news abounds, I don't think we need worry. The truth will outlast fads. It doesn't mean that we should sit back. I'm increasingly impatient with those who waste God given energy and time, because we'll never get it back.

Things that don't change aren't necessarily boring; they're reliable. My heart sinks when software decides to update, because I'm not quite sure if everything will still work. The truth never needs updating, but we do need to remind ourselves what it is!

Ecclesiastes is great
I remember first reading this little book from the Old Testament. At the time I was fed up, and sitting on a South Wales beach. When I read Ecclesiastes I felt better because the guy who wrote it seemed quite depressed, and I didn't feel as bad! Out of his questioning of what's really worthwhile in life, he comes up with some real gems: 
'For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die ...
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; ...
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace'.

For years I puzzled about the stones, throwing them away one time but gathering them another. Make your mind up! And then it dawned on me. What is the right policy at one moment in time, might have to be reversed later. Imagine if we said pulse phones are forever, well we'd still be in the telecoms dark ages.

God's timing is key, and one of the skills we need is reading his signals. Reinhold Niebuhr put it this way:
O God, grant us serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.