The year was 1939. My mother’s oldest brother, Howard, and some friends hitch hiked from a small southern town all the way north to New York to the World’s Fair. The stories he brought back disturbed and amazed my dear grandmother to no end.
“Mama,” he shouted as be bounded up the steps to the porch where she sat snapping green beans for supper, “I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to start.
She set her work aside to greet her first born with great delight. She had not stopped praying for him the whole time he had been gone to what seemed like another planet to her.
Her main concern was his stomach.
“I’m so thankful you’re back safe and sound, son. Let me fix you something to eat.”
Although he was happy to have food in front of him that he recognized, he could barely get it down. His excitement over all he had seen had to be shared or he thought he would burst. She knew he seemed smarter than most guys his age, but the things he had learned in New York were so far above her head it almost frightened her to think about them.
The thing that impressed him the most was a new thing called television. Since she did not go to movies, it was hard to paint a good picture of its concept.
“It’s the beginning of a whole new age of mankind, Mama. A camera takes moving pictures of people that you can see on a screen in a box-like thing right then. The RCA people explained how television sets would be in everyone’s home in the not too distant future.”
She shook her head in horror and disbelief.
“But, Mama, President Roosevelt actually broadcast a speech right there in front of me.”
“Now son, I just do not think the Lord would let such a thing come to pass. It sounds evil to me. All we need to know is right in His Word.”
When she got her first black and white TV in the 1960s, we kidded her about that long ago response. Now it doesn’t seem so funny.
Even though she enjoyed the news and a few talent shows and comedies, she continued to believe the whole concept was a forerunner to the making of a monster that would eventually consume us.
It was hard for her to put into words, but when she sat staring out the window in what I knew as her pondering mode, the look in her sparkling blue eyes held a depth of wisdom none of us could grasp at the time.
It was too easy to simply assume she was unsophisticated and would never understand the constantly changing world of communication. After all, she was born into a home with no telephone or electricity.
How could she possibly have an opinion about a future that held endless advances in the ways we would eventually connect to information? I know now, that even in her seeming innocence, she had an insight and understanding about the world that would have shocked us.
If she could come back from Heaven (and I would never want that, even if it were possible), she would have plenty to say about how far we’ve come…or gone.
I can almost hear that firm but loving voice. She would point a finger at the listener for effect and hug her old worn Bible to her heart.
“Now, honey. Listen to me. Computers may have a place when used with prudence, BUT…anything of real importance that you need to search for is right here in God’s word.
And that…would be the end of that.
Post Script: Howard eventually moved to California where he invented and manufactured a significant valve used in airplanes. He never lost his loving respect for his very smart mother who knew what was important, nor his curiosity about the next big discovery.
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