Over the years I have accumulated a number of old vinyl recorded albums - and the somewhat necessary turntable on which we can play them! I don't use it often, but during Christmas we get the player and the records out and listen to some of the old time favorites of our youth (you may recall the Tennessee Ernie Ford Christmas blessing I wrote about recently).
As referenced yesterday, things are changing so fast in our technological and information age that it often feels we must grab hold of something solid and lasting, or at least that used to be. Indeed, vinyl records were the staple recording medium for more than 50 years, finally replaced by CDs in the early 1980s (after having overcome challenges by magnetic tape in the 1970s). Compact discs had their run, and still occupy a significant portion of the recorded sound market. The advent of MP3s and Blue Ray discs, however, is gradually pushing the CD into oblivion after a tenure not nearly as lasting as the vinyl record.
The interesting thing about the record, as compared to the CDs and other digital vehicles, is that the sound quality, while not nearly as clean and dynamically broad, often seems to elicit a warmer and more "personal" response in many listeners. Some scientists say that the analog environment of the record is processed by the brain differently than the digital sound of modern vehicles like the compact disc. There is dispute about this, but I have always sensed an apparent difference. I love the accurate sound of the digital environment, but from the advent of its availability, I have always felt that something was lacking in comparison with the old vinyl. Some say that emotional content is less effectively communicated, and I personally believe this to be the case.
If this is true, we are once again presented with the thorn that always seems to accompany the rose of science and technology. Surely we are grateful for the advances of modern times, and I cannot say that I want to completely return to the days gone by. However, we are surely losing much of the personal and the "emotional content" of times when the availability of fewer machines made necessary the activity of more fertile minds (in the sense of personal relationship). Most importantly, I believe that our understanding and capacity for relating to God is affected by the days in which we live. As referenced yesterday, "Be still and know that I am God" must surely conflict with the pace of life as known in the 21st century (Psalm 46:10).
Perhaps it always has in some sense, and we are merely dealing with the particular challenge of our own time. I do not know, but in 2011, my response to the present circumstance involves a return to the printed Bible as my primary reading and study source. For many years, the excellent Scriptural sources available on the Internet have served as my main vehicle for devotion, study, and writing. I will certainly still use these as helps in the coming year, with no qualms. However, I look forward to the printed page in 2011, and the different sense that one has when reading typeset words on the page of a book, as opposed to brightly lit words on a screen. No agenda here, by the way, and I do not mean to suggest this for anyone else. I simply desire a more personal experience with God in the coming year, and with people as the natural, or supernatural, fruit. Of course, the issue is far more a matter of the heart than the mode of reading and study, but for me, I do expect change for the better. And I also plan on listening to more vinyl in 2011!
(Oh yes, rest easy. You will still receive these devotionals by email. I never liked licking stamps! :) ).
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."