Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Reverse Compatible Church

As the PlayStation Network comes back on-line after being hacked, I'm going to do everything in my power to keep myself from being sucked back in too deeply.   Couldn't Sony have waited until after my D.Min. papers were complete?  Sigh.  Yet another reminder that the world doesn't revolve around me, I suppose.

My boys, of course, are overjoyed.  They get their love of gaming from their dad, which is for us as much a source of father/son bonding as baseball might have been for a prior generation.  Interestingly, both of my lads have a growing sense of gaming history.   Old eight-bit games and games on older systems hold a fascination for them, particularly as they relate to the newer stuff they play.   We talk gaming history like football-inclined Washingtonians might talk about Doug Williams, Joe Theismann, and John Riggins.  It connects us.

When our PS3's optical drive punked out a few months ago, the males of the Williams household gathered in conclave to discuss whether we should 1) get a current Play Station 3 Slim, which runs cooler, and is more reliable and compact, or 2) get a refurbished Play Station 3 "Phat", which can run hot, is a bit clunkier looking and not "new," but has the ability to play all of the old Play Station 2 games.

There was no question.  Both boys were adamant.  We want the old games.  The old games are awesome.  Not all of them, mind you.  Just the good ones.  We don't want to let go of the good ones.

So back to the Phat we went, and an old machine became our new machine.

This last week during my D.Min. coursework, I was part of a pastorly small group conversation in which "connecting with teens" was discussed with the same level of trepidation as if our task had been "developing faster-than-light travel" or "getting Congress to deal honestly with the deficit."   This generation, I was told, is completely alien.  Their minds are different.  They just don't think like us, said one pastor.  We just can't relate, said another.

I just don't buy it.

There are things that our net-connected younglings crave that are, frankly, no different from the things we craved at their age.  Purpose.  Relationship.  Authenticity.  Hope.  Honesty.  Their minds may hum and crackle with the overflowing cornucopia of the web, but they have not ceased to be human.

They do bring some new things to the table.  We have to listen, and after listening, give them their own space to build.  But they also yearn for some of the old things.  Not all of them.  Not the whole package.

Just the best of it.