Christmas Pageant Star
Never has the world been more beguiled by superficial appearances than today. The TV screen began to change our perception of reality in the 1950s, and by 2000 we were spending enormous amounts of time staring at all kinds of flat screens. Almost everything now has a “screen” — not only your TV, but your office phone, your cell phone, your camera (remember when we used to look through a viewfinder rather than at a screen), your car, your computer and every electronic toy or tool. Even books are being reduced to flat screens. How much time do you spend looking at a screen rather than engaging the real world? Don’t get me wrong: screens are quite useful, but we tend to forget that they are only two-dimensional. They seem so real that we easily begin to live inside of them. And in doing so, we too become flat and superficial. Every time I walk out my door I have to fight the urge to check texts or emails on my phone rather than look at the real world and greet real people.
Six years ago, Business week published a scary cover story by Robert Hof on the fantasy “worlds” of multi-player computer games. In 2006, he wrote that at least 10 million people were living “virtual lives” inside computer games. As of July 2011, there are 1.4 billion registered users of virtual games, half of them between the ages of 10 and 14. How many of us are addicted to computer-generated images that don’t exist beyond pixels on a screen? In the worst cases, these people themselves become “pixilated” — superficial images, ghosts of their real selves.
The Wise Men followed a star to find a real person, a divine person. Every child, every person, reflects that divine child, whose depth is infinite. Don’t accept less than the real, for less than Jesus’ real presence in the world around you.