Dear people of God:
I'm writing this on the train as I return to you from participating in the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I'll be writing about that meeting for the Session, and will be happy to share my report with any of you who are interested.
But for today, I'll share a few vignettes, moments from my time in Boston. When I had a little free time, I took the subway to MIT to visit Maddie Sutula. While riding the train, I noticed that nearly everyone on my car had their faces buried in a small screen. One woman was reading a book, and a few others were not staring at screens but wore earbuds that were plugged into their phones. All the others were staring at screens.
Small screens were ever-present on the walk between my hotel and the convention center, too. The route was an enclosed walk around the Prudential Center, packed with upscale shopping and appealing places to eat. People scurried to their destinations, or walked leisurely through the mall. About a third had their heads bowed down, staring at a screen as they walked. I didn't see any collisions between people who were looking at a screen rather than at where they were, but I've heard of it. It's likely that many of those folks were staring at Google Maps or another app giving them directions to their destination. Of course, the mall's signage was excellent and there were maps prominently placed.
In the mall there is a small Catholic chapel, St. Francis, seating perhaps a hundred people. I attended Mass there on Sunday evening. It was a simple service, enthusiastically conducted by an elderly priest, assisted by a young woman reader and a young man and woman providing the music (mostly hymns familiar to Presbyterians, including one written by a Presbyterian: "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"). It was the fifth Mass of that day, and was packed, The congregation was overwhelmingly under the age of 35. There were a few folks my age, and a few families with children, but most of those in attendance were individuals and couples between 18 and 35. No flash, no screens, nothing designed to "appeal": just the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist.
I have no conclusions to offer from these vignettes; perhaps something occurs to you. I love to travel and I love to notice things about people where I go.