I recently acquired a subscription to Popular Mechanics. I haven’t read one in decades. It was good to get reacquainted with an old friend. The latest issue has a preview of forty-four good things to come in 2015 in the field of technology. It is a mixed bag. Some look really useful and could lead to even more useful things. At the really useful end of the spectrum is Toyota’s first fuel cell car, to appear in the U.S. this summer. It is said to have a range of 310 miles and, alternately, can power the average home for a week. Also coming, from two Australian inventors, are printable solar panels, which can be printed on any plastic surface, meaning that your cell phone case can be your phone’s solar powered charger. At the other end of the usefulness spectrum, at least to me, are play-tracking cameras and sensors that will be installed in all the major league baseball fields so that, even while our roads, bridges, atomic power plants and underground water and sewer pipes are deteriorating, there will be a whole new set of metrics about which sports fans can obsess, such as how fast someone swung a bat or how far someone ran to make a catch. But even this I suppose might have useful spinoffs in the field of forensics.
But all of these, the good, the bad and the ugly, set me to thinking about how much I benefit every minute of every day from the creative imagination and tenacity of inventors. They bring about things that revolutionize our lives for the better. Even though they have all come into being in my life time I can’t imagine living without 24 hour world news beamed right into my living room or without my cell phone.
And that set me to wondering why we don’t celebrate these men and women more in our religious life. In the panoply of saints, about the only ones that come close to being celebrated for scientific achievement are in the medical field. Far be if from me to write a Collect for the Book of Common Prayer, but I hope this idea eventually reaches someone who can. Until then, perhaps this will do.
Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of creativity and for those on whom you bestow it abundantly. May they always apply their talents to the betterment of mankind. Help us to always be appreciative of the many ways in which the products of their minds and hands make our lives not only possible but productive and joyful. To God be the praise of it all. Amen.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 18-November-2014.