In a world with seven billion people, where is everybody? Between ATM’s, automated customer service, and online shopping, I’m beginning to wonder if the most recent census included computers. My laptop thinks we’re so chummy it can send me suggestions such as, Oops! Did you mean… when I misspell something. I just don’t know if I’m ready for such an intrusive friendship with my HP yet.
I recently had to call our power company to report an outage. Of course, there was no human on the other end of the phone, just a robotic voice that needed to “ask a few simple questions in order to help.” Don’t they realize how annoying that is in an emergency? You reach out to someone for help and comfort, and all you get is a Voice that is about as excited as a professional golf commentator.
As I answered questions about flickering lights and downed power lines, I realized that regardless of the topic, I had to listen to this detached, unemotional voice.
Is the roof caving in on you right now? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.
I’m sorry to hear that. Are squirrels getting electrocuted in full view of your innocent children? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.
I’m sorry to hear that.
We seem to have lost the example of Jesus. He was a man of the people, a man who thrived on relationship. I imagine that his eyes must have been intense and compelling, the kind that could pierce a person’s soul with love. Jesus loved without discrimination, and he could even touch lepers without repulsion. Sometimes I don’t even want to touch the ratty dollar bills I get for change at the store.
After learning of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus withdrew to a solitary place. Like a relentless band of paparazzi, the massive crowds followed their superstar. This would have been the ideal time for him to set up automated customer service.
Is your skin falling off? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Even when Jesus was sad, tired, or hungry, he never disconnected himself from his fellow man.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
This week our family decided to take a leisurely stroll downtown to see the Christmas window displays. To my surprise, most stores had decorated with class and restraint, avoiding the usual appearance of Christmas in a high-speed blender with no lid.
Everyone was in a hurry, stressed, and ignoring one another. People were texting and talking on cell phones instead of engaging with those around them. I wondered what happened to that Christmas carol, Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile, and on every street corner you’ll hear…silver bells, silver bells…
Instead, it was Children fighting, people stressing, meeting growl after growl, and on every street corner you’ll hear…angry moms, angry moms…
My reverie was suddenly interrupted by my children’s exclamations:
“Dolls without heads! Dolls without heads!”
My first thought was how that would be the perfect name for a rock group. Dolls Without Heads is now headlining at Madison Square Garden. Opening Act will be Teddy Bears Without Eyes. When I turned to discover the source of their despair, I saw headless mannequins in the store window. I shuddered at the thought that somewhere there must be a giant warehouse full of mannequin heads. A scary place, where an angry supervisor might actually roar, “Heads are gonna roll!”
My kids were right to be disturbed by this cold, impersonal display. The faceless representation of the human body provided fitting symbolism for our modern world. As people hurried by us on the street, I realized that we were being ignored. To them, we were just more dolls without heads.
It reminded me of the time two men once knocked on my door and wanted to introduce me to Jesus. “I already know him, and I love him very much,” I responded. Ignoring my answer, they continued to read from a prepared script.
A couple of days later, I bumped into the same two men on a walk in our neighborhood. Excited to see fellow Christians, I greeted them warmly. Out came the script.
“I want to introduce you to Jesus.” As he continued to read from the script, I knew that he didn’t really see me. He was looking right through me.
And there I stood, a doll without a head.
God formed us to have connections. Not pseudo-relationships, where we connect via the internet in an attempt to feel popular and accepted. Real relationships involve genuine caring and sacrifice from the heart.
It would be impossible for us to give all decapitated mannequins their heads back. The best thing we can do is to use them as a reminder. Every time we see one, we can remember Jesus, a man who knew how to connect with people. A man who could look people in the eyes and give them the integrity and respect they deserved.