[2010] So I got this spanky new smartphone, the Droid X, which is at least as cool, if not cooler, than the iPhone. It can do all the usual “smart” things like make phone calls, send and receive emails, surf the web, spit out driving directions complete with latitude and longitude, google virtually every unknown thing, take videos, skype across the ocean, be used as a flashlight, alarm clock, and a calculator. I can use it to watch a full length feature film or a silly U-tube video, take quality photos and upload them to my Facebook page in a blink, and amass a ridiculous amount of music for my listening pleasure.

Oh did I mention the texting? I can send and receive text messages at the speed of light … or well at least as fast as I can type with my thumb knuckles. You see, my nails are too long to make contact with the touchscreen keyboard. But a few weeks ago, I discovered the “voice recognition” text message function.

Here’s how it works … you press little microphone button on the screen and begin to speak. The phone takes a few seconds to process the sounds and then displays the words it heard you say. Frighteningly, it’s pretty accurate most of the time, however not always.

After a soccer game last Thursday, we picked up a pizza for Jackson who was riding home on the team bus. I wanted to let him know so he wouldn’t stop and grab something on the way home, so I sent him a text. I pressed the little microphone and said to the phone (which btw, makes you look like a raving lunatic to passers-by), I said, “We are picking up the pizza to have at home.” But instead the phone sent, “We’re picking up the peeps and she have a pool.”

A few days ago I sent a message to Pastor John after a kind man from our congregation named Harry Bolton brought a meal into the church for them; John’s wife Kathy had just had surgery and was home convalescessing. What I spoke into the phone was this: “Harry Bolton brought a meal for you and Kathy. It’s in the refrigerator.” What the phone sent was, “Harry Potter brought a meal for you. And Kathy’s in the refrigerator.” LOL, in fact LMAO!!! I was all by myself in the office with a fit of giggles that wouldn’t stop!

It occurred to me that day how many times we say one thing and something completely different is heard. For instance, when I say to my teenage son, “Don’t let me catch you hanging out with that looser so-and-so!” it is heard as, “Young man, you better improve your sneaking around and lying skills or else!” Or if I say, “I will know if you are fooling around at school because you will not get your work turned in on time.” it is heard as, “Fool around and break all the rules you want to, as long as you get your work turned in on time.”

Our Pastor Tommy used to say there are three sermons preached in every pulpit in every church every Sunday morning. The one you preached, the one you meant to preach, and the one they heard.

I guess we all hear things according to our own agenda or our own paradigm, regardless of what is actually said or intended. I am not entirely sure what my phone’s agenda is – perhaps just to give me the giggles – but it is clear that my son’s agenda is to NOT be controlled by his parents anymore, but to control his own time and his own activities. And I guess that’s to be expected.

Listening to a political speech and then watching the commentaries afterward makes you wonder if both sides of the isle were actually in the same room listening to the same guy. It’s a wonder anything at all gets done in Washington.

Advertisers are masters at speaking between the lines.

“Whiten and brighten your smile with our amazing product.” But they are counting on us to hear, “Your teeth are so ugly and yellow, you will never get a date, be successful, or be accepted at your next class reunion!”

“Try our new weight loss program and you will be amazingly beautiful.” But what they want us to hear is something far more sinister playing to our deepest insecurities, “Unless you buy this stuff, you will remain so fat and unattractive, you will never get a date, be successful, be accepted at your class reunion, and you will probably die alone.”

“Buy the newest model of this or that car and you will be safer, get better mileage, and be the envy of all your friends.” But what they’d like us to hear is, “If you don’t buy this new car – even though you can’t afford it – your family will most likely parish in a fiery crash when the breaks on your old car fail, you will pollute the whole entire world, and your friends will keep laughing at your poor taste in automobiles. Furthermore, you will never get a date, be successful, or be able to drive to your class reunion. Oh, and you will probably die alone.

Even the Bible seems to say different things to different people. Last week a pastor of a little church in Florida told the national news media that Jesus commands his followers to burn Qurans [July 2010, Terry Jones, the pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida]. What? My NIV version clearly states that Christ commanded us to love our neighbors, our enemies, and to turn the other cheek. What a paradigm of fear that pitiful old guy must be looking through! In the 1860’s America was torn over the issue of slavery and both sides cited Holy Scripture as their platform. In my view, the Quakers got it right that time. The slave traders and owners clearly had an agenda based in profits and used the Bible to justify some really horrific actions.

I can sort of see the Creator peacefully drifting through the galaxies, breathing into existence the Word of God, speaking into his spanky new smart phone and trying to send his people a text message in the form of the Bible. We get it right most of the time but then sometimes we get it all wrong. Sometimes we think our food comes from Harry Potter and we build a whole theology around trying to get Kathy to come out of the fridge, instead of enjoying the good nutritious home cooking God provides for us. We get all obsessed with what planet those immoral “peeps” came from and if they just might be naked in that pool of theirs, instead of just grabbing a slice with the fam at the end of a long day. Sometimes I can just see God shaking his head and rubbing his forehead saying, “I said that? They heard what? That’s not at all what I meant.”

I guess I will never be able to control the slave traders or the terrorists or the small town preachers or even my son for that matter. But today I resolve to speak a little more clearly, a little more kindly, and enunciate a little better. And I resolve to listen more slowly and carefully, doing my best to put aside my agenda and my paradigm and my self-preservation, so I can really try to hear what is being said.

And one way or another, I vow to get poor Kathy out of that refrigerator!

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