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On the Table: Late to the Party

Remember parachute pants? Man, I hated those things and everyone that wore them irritated me–until the day I bought a pair and realized what I was missing out on and just how glorious it is to have thirty-seven pockets on a pair of pants that are too tight to bend over and tie your shoes in (that’s why they make Vans loafers.) So the question is: What cultural phenomenon, whether technology, music, fashion, art, or anything else, did you miss out on until the last possible minute and then finally give into?


But then, things began to change. I kept getting emails whenever one of my 100 best friends became friends with another one of my 100 best friends—and for some reason I cannot explain Facebook thought I should know. Then a young lady in our church invited me to her graduation party which I was unable to attend due to travel. Long story short, I had no idea how to work the “application” she sent for a yes, no or maybe. So I told her no two times in a row without any kind of comment. Rudest pastor ever. I felt like I replied, “No. Didn’t you hear me, I said NO!” Now I’m hoping there’s a Facebook application for people struggling with the emotional roller coaster ride the first few weeks with Facebook takes you on.

At present, I’m building up a nice list of friendship requests, and I’m mulling them over. But these things, it turns out, are not to be entered into lightly. So I’m at the party, but I’m the guy over by the wall nursing a diet coke wondering if its time to call it a night. Word on the street is this party is definitely an all-nighter.


2. Joining Facebook.

3. Joining the forthcoming greatest social networking website.


I’m afraid that much of my reluctance probably comes from a desire to foster my identity as a non-joiner. Thankfully, though, I’m learning to get over myself.

But another part of it is that with every new sensation that comes along, I’m afraid of losing the good I’ve known of my time. I read that dead authors don’t sell very well, which is a shame since some of the best minds (and hearts) that Christianity has produced are now dead and gone. But we still have so much to learn from them. Augustine, Lewis, Chesterton, Bonhoeffer – today’s church needs to hear their words now more than ever. The same for music. There is still much good to be gleaned from even contemporary artists like Rich Mullins and Mark Heard not to mention more classic works by Robert Robinson, John Newton, and others. Because of our culture’s profane disregard of the old things, I’m usually suspicious of the new things.

Besides, I’m waiting for the iPhone to come out with an 80 gig version.


So aside from being way ahead of pop culture trends, what phenomenon did I miss out on until the last moment? I was a little slow on the iPod, I think, though I’ve had several in the past few years. I still like records. CDs are on the way out and I dislike mp3 sound quality. But now iPods and external hard drives are big enough to accomodate dumping the cds straight in as wavs with no loss of quality.

Now, I did just buy a TV with a 52″ screen. Now that I’ve solidly established “Friday and Friday Night Alone Is Movie Night” in our family I felt safe going out and getting a flatscreen. The trend isn’t close to over, I realize, but our prior TV was about 20 inches and we got tired of squinting. This big ol’ TV will make its home downstairs, waiting every week, black and silent, for Friday night.

I still don’t have cable or satellite. That’s way too trendy.


From the fashion world, my goatee is a perfect example. I can’t recall exactly when the goatee became ubiquitous, but as best I recall, it was somewhere in the mid 90s. I was sure it would die a quick death. Instead, like the Engergizer Bunny, it just went on and on and on. At least two or three years into the trend, I started to like the look and grew one myself, though I suspect its time probably passed at least five years ago.

Similar to the goatee, I totally underestimated rap music. Like the just under two year trend of disco music in the late 70s, I predicted rap music was a fad that would pass quickly. When the genre penetrated the world of mainstream music in the early 90s, I thought it would be gone within no more than two years. As it continues to infiltrate and often dominate popular music in the new century, I’m still surprised that it’s around. And I still don’t like it. It’s a bandwagon I contine to avoid.

Tatoos. That’s another piece of popular culture I’ve shunned, though it looks cool on Derek Webb. At one time, tattoos were the domain of sailors, bikers, and those that endured an unfortunate night of inebriation. Nowadays, grandma, your tax accountant, and the pope all probably have tattoos. Fine, for them, not for me. Regardless of how certain I am of a thing today, there’s a fair chance I might feel differently tomorrow. And I can shave a goatee if I don’t like it.

I have an iPod, I am a member of Facebook, I use nitrogen in my tires, and have a big-screen TV, so I’m not totally behind the pop culture curve. On the other hand, the woodwork in our house is stained, not painted white, my summer shorts are at at least two inches too high, our TV is not high definition, I don’t do the iPhone, and I still haven’t shaved my goatee. Yet.



The year was 1996. It was my sophomore year at Auburn University (at least the football was good). I was an R.A. (that means Resident Assistant for all of you unlearnt folk). I enjoyed the perks of my own room, a window AC unit, and free room and board. All I had to endure was a week of ice breaker games and CPR training at the onset of the school year, drunk sorority girls banging on my door at all hours of the early morning asking for Advil (which of course, I was certified to administer), and being the dorm’s designated killer of flying roaches.

The computer lab was right across the street from our dorm (the name of which escapes me and this is making me feel ancient) on the quad, and I’ll never forget sitting at the front desk and watching girls file out the door in droves at all hours saying “wanna go check your e-mail?” “What? What’s this? What does this strange ‘e’ stand for? Well, I never…I’ll write letters by hand until Jesus returns. There’s no way I’ll start typing them. I hate to type. This is preposterous.”

Fast forward two years. The year was 1999. It was my second year at UT Chattanooga. My sister came to visit and I was showing her the design lab. “You know Evie, if you’d get an e-mail account, we could keep in touch much more easily.” And something in me snapped. I was suddenly ready for this gigantic step forward in technology. It had taken me awhile, but my hand was growing tired and Jesus sure was taking his sweet time, so we sat down, summoned the powers of hotmail, and here I’ve been ever since.

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