mePhones, ourPhones: A Eulogy for Conversation

By The Rev. Anne S. Howard  -

Orginally posted on Jun 23, 2010 on The Beatitudes Society Blog

"My phone died. And my new phone is at this very moment Fed-Exing its way to my front door.


The BlackBerry is dead! Long live the Droid! The reign of the phone shall go uninterrupted.

I liked my old phone. And I liked the one before that. Our relationships were short, but intense. I’m ready already for something new. My last phone was named BB for short, or BlackBeast on certain days. I’m thinking Droiders will be a nice name for my new friend, but I’m open to suggestions.


I’m open to the new in general. At least I’ve preached plenty of sermons on that theme over the years. I figure the Spirit always is blowing us toward the new and the untried, out of our Egypts and toward the Promised Land, pushing us pilgrims toward a New Heaven and a New Earth. I’m just not so sure what part these phones play on the journey, and I’ve become troubled about it lately.



I’ve just returned from a series of meetings and gatherings across the country. I’ve been in board meetings, receptions, one-on-one conversations, supper talks, church gatherings, and even a graduation and a couple of parties. And of course, there’s all the travel time in between these gatherings. Everywhere I’ve been, people have been talking. Sometimes, in some places, they’ve been talking to the person they can see in the room. Sometimes, in some places, they are also listening. But all the time, in every place, people are talking to somebody who’s not there. They are talking, texting, messaging and emailing somebody someplace else. They are communicating with their fingers, letting their fingers do the talking, as it were. In most cases, they are doing what we used to call “multi-tasking”—two things at once, e.g. listening while texting, talking while clicking. We used to call it multi-tasking because we didn’t do it all the time. We often did one thing at a time. But I think that multi-tasking, in communication, is the new tasking, like have several screens open at once on the computer. Now, we have several communication lines coming and going from our ears and eyes and mouths and fingers. We are becoming something new. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.


I’m not sure it’s a good thing because I’ve noticed something missing lately in the meetings I’ve attended. I miss the people: their voices, their eyes, their ears, and all the rest of them."

Read the rest of Anne's reflection by clicking here