Reality is getting clearer every day.
A subsidiary corporation of Olympus has developed a camera with such incredible threads of clarity that even the human eye cannot see them. The company, called KeyMed, and based in Great Britain, developed the camera for use in the medical industry, but the implications are enormous. The camera, with the official name of i-Speed 2, can capture 33,000 frames per second, compared to the standard home video camera, which can record 25 frames per second.
An indication of how quickly the technology has developed, The Matrix, released in in 1999, won several awards for its incorporation of advanced camera technology. The scene which showcased the ability of filmmakers to stretch the believable was a scene in the latter half of the movie. Featuring the main character, Neo, the scene showed the extent of Neo’s abilities when dodging bullets in what has become known as a “flo-mo” scene.
The camera used to film that scene recorded a mere 12,000 frames per second. Only 12,000.
The i-Speed camera, with its ability to film more than twice that amount, has already found a considerable market for corporations and organizations interested in motion analysis. Among those which have expressed interest are the FBI and NASA, for ballistics testing and cosmic monitorings. But with an asking price of around $40,000, the cameras are not presently suited for a large consumer market.
Not be outdone, though, the team responsible for designing such a camera has has just launched development for the i-Speed 3, which will be able to record 150,000 frames per second.
And just as the boundaries for recording are being pushed, so have the boundaries for viewing. Sony has developed a plasma screen television that is only eleven inches in width, but one-eighth of an inch in depth. Called the Sony XEL-1, it features the latest in what is known as OLED technology. In this format, similar to conventional plasma screens, light is emitted in organic material, making the space to display and channel the electricity applicable to very small devices. You can currently purchase one of these screens for $2,500.
With all of the latest developments in viewing and recording technology, the entertainment market is anticipating an all-digital broadcast in February of next year, when, for the first time in American history, all over-air broadcast signals will be terminated. We will no longer be able to use antennaes to watch local channels. In spite of the switch, analog televisions are continuing to be sold, but at some peril. The Federal Communications Commission has fined department and electronic stores for selling televisions that can only receive analog signals, but failing to disclose the coming broadcast changes.
Change is coming.
I find all of this fascinating. The electronics industry has consumed itself with producing realistic images, and has pushed the envelope of clarity from old transistor radios to current plasma technology. It has somehow even convinced the federal government to force the change in broadcasting to favor the coming (and even current) market. And that market is moving so fast, that even the information above will be considered obsolete within a matter of months.
And all of this is to see what is real.
Make no mistake. If you own a television with the capability of broadcasting in what has become known as high definition, you see images that allow you to look beyond the glass and into the broadcast. For the video connoisseur, images are feasts for the eyes. Coupled with state-of-the-art audio technology, the high-def images move from just a mere broadcast to an (almost) interactive event. You are fooled into believing that what you see and hear is actually real.
We have become a voyeuristic culture, spending the most amount of money to see a reproduced image of reality. And this hobby, this fascination, will continue to cost an exorbitant amount of money. But for all of our voyeuristic tendencies, the televisions and monitors and receivers we buy will never be a viable substitute the feeling of flesh, the aromas of a room, or the brushes of wind.
We want a reality we can watch. But we shy from real interaction.
I find worship to be very similar to this.
In modern religious writings, worship has become somewhat of a catch-phrase, as if it is a new and unknown aspect of faith. True enough, Sunday mornings are the pinnacle of the church week, where we want to offer the best we have, for God, for membership, and for guests. But the realness of worship is, at best, relative, and we discuss worship settings in terms of what we like, and become defensive when what we like is in danger of disruption. But however we feel about worship, we can possibly all agree that worship is an intense time of a divine connection. We want that to be real.
One book that has separated itself from the religious lingo is Emerging Worship, written by Dan Kimball and published by Zondervan and Youth Specialties. Emerging Worship builds its entire premise around “creating worship gatherings for new generations.” The book, designed for youth ministers, is meant to spur the thinking processes of the events we plan and offer, as well as offer the assumption (which is somewhat true) that the current generation of high school and college students have different, but learned expectations when entering a participatory event. In fact, the book spends most of its pages giving philosophical and scriptural reasons to incorporate such thinking into the planning of worship events.
(It even asks the very real, but unanswered, and often ignored, question of why there is such an absence in most church gatherings of people aged eighteen through thirty-five. This book is built around answering that very question.)
Of the reasons to create a new worship gathering in modern churches, one is that churches may (and should) have a desire to see new generations worship. The heaviness of that statement implies that the how of current (and even traditional) worship means are lost among the general population of younger generations. It also addresses the need to visit new models of worship to incorporate both cultural and generational change. It believes this can be accomplished by not merely ascribing worship to a service, but to a holistic lifestyle, embracing the desire to lead all people, from all cultures and all ages, into the ethereal.
Churches, and leaders, have a distinct responsibility of offering reality in worship, but that reality, at times, comes with consequences, both real and assumed, when answering what I believe to be the three most pertinent questions:
- Why do cultural gaps need to be bridged?
- How do churches bridge cultural gaps in worship events?
- Are there ways to incorporate all cultural generations in one event?
There are no correct answers, as I believe every church has the responsibility to answer those questions based upon current membership and current mission statements. But church leaders hold great responsibility when thinking about worship, for when we fail to answer the previous questions, we, in an indirect way, ignore an entire generation of Americans shaped by a culture that is unfamiliar to us.
And I wonder if that is the right thing to do.