The Benefits of Skype

nathanielkiddnathanielkidd on 1221019090|%B %d

Sarah and I are now residents of Potlatch, Idaho. Or at least our phone is.

Yes, that’s right, Sarah and I are at last on Skype, the famed internet phone service. Our new phone number is on the connect page. Fans of pneumonics can dial us right away at a-0-turk-bldg.

And yes, it is an Idaho number.

We spent some time debating what area code we should request for our digital number. Should we go for Colorado or Washington? My connections are biased toward one locale, Sarah’s toward another.

Practically speaking, we concluded, it won’t matter: in all likelihood, these days no one is going to call us on a land line, or some other service that charges extra for long distance.

We took it up as a sentimental consideration. We found we both gravitated to familiar prefixes. 719 has a peculiar magic about it I find almost irresistible; but for Sarah 425 is the numeric phrase with gravity.

Amazing how such small, arbitrary things keep us rooted! It was a difficult discussion. But, finally, we both agreed to sacrifice this little scrap of our past. It doesn’t really matter. We are pilgrims: why should we grasp so franticly after roots, especially roots so thin?

What was left? Anywhere, USA. Neither of us have lived in, or even been to Anywhere. Anywhere is not a particularly beautiful place, so far as we know, nor a place with any spiritual or historical significance we are aware of. Anywhere is our ironic, immaterial home: geographic only because of conventions that are expiring due to the rapid progress of technology.

So we through a dart, flipped a coin, tossed a die, and came up with Potlatch. Thank you, Potlatch, for your kind tribute of this piece of intangible real estate.

I like Skype. I like that it takes some of the instant out of communication, and puts intention back in.

In our age, suddenly we can talk to anyone we want, at any time we want. As a consequence, we’ve had to deal with the fact that we don’t really have anything important to say.

It turns out that much of the joy in communication is actually in the drama and the ritual of the act itself. Communication is a mystery. If we don’t treat it with respect and sanctity, we will destroy it.

This is part of the reason that I have never liked cell phones, and why I was so tremendously opposed to getting one. This is part of why I used my phone so rarely, and glanced at it with such beams of hatred it ultimately stopped working.

Sure, it was convenient. But do we really want to live in a convenient world? Why not a beautiful world, or a holy world, or an adventuresome world? I would gladly sacrifice a little convenience for love, for beauty, for silence, for mystery, for Christ.

Ironically, Skype is an advance in technology that lets us step back from some of the ill-effects of technology. I have long since abandoned the idea that technology can save us, but from time to time, I am tempted to believe that only those things and ideas that are anti-technology can save us.

Neither of these is true. Only God can save us.

Through a harmony of unlikely methods that are both technological and non, both digital and analog, both intangible and tangible, his presence and saving health appears to us. The best we can do is watch, and pray. And, when the time comes, obey.

God knows what he's doing, even if we don't. And it will continue to unfold, despite our ignorance.

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