A whole caboodle of tech jargon and functionalities have come and gone in the last 20 or 30 years. (Anyone else till speak DOS and have to translate “directory” to “folder” in your head when speaking to others?). The most useful items have come and stayed, I suppose.
I remember a Brother electronic typewriter I owned that had a page’s worth of RAM (and no hard disk storage). Up to one page of characters could be remembered, copied, & pasted! What a great functionality that was, and while I used that machine for a year or two, I had no idea what was coming when personal computers with more RAM and a hard disk became more affordable.
Two of the most lasting, and yet probably among the more basic, functions are still the most amazingly helpful in the world of personal computing — 1) search and 2) copy/cut and paste.
Think what time can be saved by searching. Now, we even have automatic search functions that check for recently used e-mail addresses and key words in text, saving keystrokes. But, believe you me, the search engine on a PC, let alone a server-based engine such as Google, is much more powerful than that. (I think my own cranial search engine is losing power because I don’t need to rely on it as much anymore.) Just last night, I had forgotten an address, but within 30 seconds, I had it on my White Pages application on my phone. I hardly need to remember that “again I say, rejoice” is in Philippians or that the wise man built his house at the end of the so-called sermon on the mount. All these data and more are readily available as a result of the marvelous search function.
Copying (or cutting) and pasting is nearly as ubiquitous. I paste scripture into a Word document or a PowerPoint for use in a church gathering or devotional message. I copy and paste a line of music intended for voices alone into a new arrangement for instruments. Although I save such documents and might refer to them months or years down the road, perhaps modifying and/or lifting some tidbits, the originals are generally fixed and are used but once. I copy from e-mails into text messages and vice versa. Because I’m so dependent on this function, I’m annoyed by one app on my phone that will let me select sentences or paragraphs but that doesn’t allow me to cut or copy. Re-using information through the copy and paste function seems nigh unto essential in my life.
I don’t think I could make it as a preacher (or table-talker or worship leader or pray-er, etc.) who had to “copy and paste” words from one assembly to the next. (Most would recognize this institutional gathering pattern as multiple “services,” but that is a misuse of the word “service.”) Please see here for more on worship vs. service.) To me, something has always seemed disingenuous about that. If I go to the 11:00 gathering, but I know the same things were said and sung at 9:30, I think I would catch myself initially reacting genuinely, and then realizing that mine was not the first crowd to have heard those very words. Then I would be embarrassed, both for myself and for the preacher, worship leader, announcer, etc.: it wasn’t the first time things were said, and it seems like a lie to me to present things with the same enthusiasm, giving no hint that they’ve been pasted in from the last “service.”
I recently talked about this with a friend, and her response was, “It’s not about you, though – it’s about the congregation.” Yes, this is just me, and I’m not trying to legislate for everyone on this point. It’s a personality thing — I simply have trouble engaging with repeats of things. My personality is bored by repetition — and particularly repelled by repetition that presents itself as not repeated.