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I Wish it Were the Olden Days
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2002

Can I be the first to tell you that, I HATE PAPER! One of my largest pet peeves, is the accumulation and clutter of paper. As I sit here and type this right now, I glance around my desk to see the following:

  • This weeks copy of our town newspaper, received today
  • Old checks that the bank sent back to me
  • A business card
  • An empty envelope
  • ATM and other various receipts
  • A post it pad, and about 6 post it's scattered around the desk
  • Bills
  • Piles of miscellaneous stacks of flyers that they needlessly send you with EVERY bill you get, of which there are also at least three on the desk as well.
  • An old copy of our town newspaper, received who knows when!

So on and so forth, you get the point. And IT BOTHERS ME! I get so sick of papers being on my desk, that on the floor next to my chair, there are several addition piles. I get real sick of those too! Let me tell you why I dislike this clutter so much. I get it, and I'm not sure what it is. So I glance at it, and am really not sure whether it's of value to keep or not. I somehow convince myself that it will do me good to hold on to this little piece of random literature. So I put it somewhere to review later. Well, that revision rarely happens, and I end up just throwing all kinds of stuff out without looking at it anyway, out of pure frustration with the clutter! SO WHY! WHY ALL OF THIS MESS!

How did we get to the point in our society where we need so much paper? We didn't need this much paper a hundred years ago. We are bounds past where we were a century ago in technology, yet we've got paper coming out of our ears. We just need it so much! It's used on a regular basis probably more than any one thing in our modern world. Yet, it's not modern at all. It's still the same old paper that it was when it was first created. It's probably about the only thing that is that way. With every thing else there have been better versions, additions, improvements, and advancement more than we though possible. Yet, with paper…not so much. I would even say that we've gotten to the point where we abuse paper. We have made so many needless uses of paper that it's ridiculous.

How much easier would all of this be if it were a hundred years ago, or more, and I lived in some random town out west, and had my house up in the mountains somewhere, and just didn't have all of this paper surrounding me? It would be A LOT easier! And many times I almost wish it were the "olden days." No calendars or day-timers, no newspapers, no flyers and circulars, no post-its, no checks, no receipts, or any of the things that drown me in my office right now! Perhaps an occasional book, like the Bible, or another piece of enjoyment literature. Paper is much more appealing to me when it's bound and contained in the neatly organized entity of a book. Have you ever thought about what life would be like, like this? I honestly do, quite a bit. And I think about my job, and if it would be possible without all of these things. And you know what? It would be! Of course, my church would maybe only have 100 members or so, and what would be equivalent to my "database" of kids would only be about 10-40 or so, and they WOULD definitely come to church every weekend where I could contact them, and plan out a week or even a month of activities at a time with them. And you know what else? Right now I send out a newsletter, consisting of paper, once a month that probably less than 30% of those receiving it actually read! So there, one more area where paper fails me!

Man, this would be great! Youth Ministry in the olden days. But instead I am frustrated by my abundance of papers. I am in no way saying that I am ungrateful for the time God has placed me in. I am incredibly thankful for living in a time where the comforts of living have developed so much that I don't have to think about building my own house, or bringing the milk in from the cows, or farming my own food, or sowing all of my own clothes. I am very thankful I learned how to operate a motor vehicle, and not the reigns of a horse. I am grateful that if I need to go to a foreign country, I can fly there in a matter of hours, and not have to travel there by boat over the course of weeks or more! This is truly a great time that we live in.

But that doesn't mean I can't use my imagination wondering how it would be like in my world without the clutter of paper. I just recently made the switch to a "palm pilot" so I don't have to carry around a pile of papers several inches thick in my "planner," just shoving more little pieces of paper in it, having things sticking out the sides of it in all directions. Yeah, that's organized! I love my palm pilot and how it lacks paper! I can keep track of my whole life, just as well, or better than those using conventional paper planners, with no paper at all. How sweet is that? I love using my laptop computer. I use it for everything. Notes, schedules, lesson plans, everything! I'm even going to make the transition soon to paying my bills on-line, which means less checks! I'm tempted to start taking all of my notes at meetings on my laptop. But, I think about the few other people who do so, or bring their computers to meetings (whether or not they are taking notes is another issue) and how annoying it is to listen to them typing while someone else is talking or what have you. So in those cases I write notes, and just stick them in a file, so I only have to see them on the regular basis of whatever meeting it's for. And I just transfer the important info before I tuck them away.

I guess both of these items sort of negate my idea of the "olden days," but as I said, I do enjoy this age of technology and comforts. If they are available to me and are not threatening or harmful in any way, I have no problem using them. If they'll make my life a little less cluttered, I'm all for it.

If you've never stopped to think about how fortunate we are to live in such a comfortable time, you should. Think about what differences there would be if you lived in the year 1800. Some of you might even decide you would prefer that. I told you I would enjoy many aspects of it. However, survival these days is getting closer and closer to requiring such high-tech items that I mentioned before. I guess if I had to make the best case scenario in "the now," just give me a laptop, palm pilot, and a cabin in the mountains with no paper clutter, and I'll be all set.