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Pictures on Smartphones Can't Replace Real Life

For more than five hundred years the city of Florence has marked Easter with a wild ceremony called (in English) "the explosion of the cart." Four massive white oxen, crowned with flowers, draw a multi-storied medieval cart into the Piazza del Duomo, preceded by drummers and trumpeters and flag bearers. There, in front of the cathedral doors, the cart is laden with fireworks while the Easter Sunday High Holy Mass begins. At one point a golden dove sails down a guy wire from the high altar of the church, flies out the front door, and collides with the cart, igniting a succession of fuses that set off round after round of spectacular fireworks and explosions.

This goes on for a good fifteen minutes, in a riot of color and light and noise, to the cheers of as many people as can squeeze into the square. And then there is one final series of explosions, the smoke drifts away, and the battered cart retreats over the cobblestones.

Christian writer Andy Crouch, who was watching this spectacular show while in Florence, commented:

Thousands were crammed in to the plaza with barely enough room to breathe—"come sardine, like sardines," the man behind us said. This being Europe, the crowd was polyglot, stylish, and as secular as can be…. And this being 2015, a sea of smartphones, held aloft on selfie sticks, mediated the moment. A thousand screens bobbed over the heads in front of us. Go to YouTube or Flickr and see for yourself—all of them captured it. But I will tell you this: None of them captured it. Because it was louder, and brighter, and indeed more wonderful and more terrifying, which is to say more real, than anything a device can record or represent.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Distractions; Attention; Technology—This illustration shows how useful technologies can actually keep us distracted from engaging in real life. (2) Prayer; Spiritual disciplines; Quiet time—How is our technology keeping us from engaging with what is real—like the Living God, like prayer, like the power of the Holy Spirit? (3) Worship; Awe; God, glory of—The crowd of people were in the presence of beauty but none of them seemed to turn to worship the Living God, the source of all beauty and awe. Of course creation pours forth a spectacular show every minute of every day.

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