My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I sometimes blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
I grew up hearing about the science fiction figure of Buck Rogers, but I never actually knew anything about him. All that changed a month or so ago when I found in a used bookstore an old copy of the first book in the Buck Rogers series. I quickly made the tough decision to spend the grand total of $1.50 to add it to my cottage summer reading list.
At the same time, I was reading 2 John and 3 John, two letters written by the apostle John.
Surprisingly, there was a moment of synergy in my reading of the two very different genres. It seems that both Buck Rogers and St. John would not have been so enamored with our virtual world – especially our reliance on technologies such as Zoom to fulfil our need for human contact.
Buck Rogers woke up in an America 500 years in the future. It was a world ruled by the mighty Han, a highly advanced people who were part-Asian and part-alien. Their vastly superior technology allowed them to suppress their pesky and supposedly inferior human opponents, but when Buck Rogers was captured by the Han he saw that their reliance on technology was their Achilles heal.
Here is Buck Rogers’ description of the Han and their technology:
In Buck Roger’s opinion, the lack of human exercise and engagement – real face to face contact – was a vital weakness that undermined the vitality of the Han people.
The real world of the apostle John was very different from the imaginary world of Buck Rogers. Yet surprisingly a point of synergy is that the real John agreed with the imaginary Buck Rogers on the need for and superiority of face to face communication.
In both 2 John and 3 John the apostle wrote that while his written letters were important, of utmost importance was his follow-up personal visitation:
Remember that John’s letters became part of the canon of scripture, what became called the Holy Bible. Yet, even for John, receiving and reading his written word was not enough. There needed to be real human physical connection for “their joy to be complete.”
This is not to say that Zoom is to be rejected outright. It is also not a rallying cry to become luddites and smash all our expensive technology.
It is, however, to be reminded that actual human physical contact is vital to our health and existence. If you don’t believe Buck Rogers, you should at least heed the words of St. John.