Monday, December 23, 2013


Ever heard of a skeuomorph? You see them every single day, and probably don't even think about it.

Skeuomorphs are design elements from earlier models that are added to newer models for the purpose of making people feel comfortable. I am typing this on a computer. In many computer programs when you save something a little picture of a floppy disk shows up to let you know your file is being saved. Here's the thing, who still uses floppy disks (beside my pile downstairs)? It's a symbol we've become familiar with so it's kept to help us feel comfortable. On a DVD and Blu-ray player the play button sometimes is a triangle or arrow pointed right. That's because in the good old VHS days, the tape actually played to the right. So why do we still use an outdated symbol on this new technology? It's familiar and comfortable.

The sad part is we've actually become dependent on skeuomorphs. Almost every single sound your car makes is unnecessary and added just for you. Think about it, do you really think in the 21st century we can't make a turn signal that doesn't click? So why is the click there? How many people do you see driving with the turn signal on? Now imagine how many more it would be if there were no sound. The "click" you hear when you buckle a safety belt is louder than it really needs to be simply because we feel safer when we hear that sound. For some cars the sound of the engine is amplified or even created and played with speakers (like in electric cars) because people kept thinking their car wasn't started because they couldn't hear it, and people didn't see cars coming because they weren't looking and they needed the sound to alert them.

Here's my question, what skeuomorphs are in your spiritual life that you are holding on to, maybe even depending on because it's easier to have them than learn to operate without them? Tomorrow billions of people are going to attend Christmas Eve services. What things have we told ourselves are necessary for worship? What if they don't sing "that Christmas carol they sing every year" or light the candles we like or ____________? Is that thing really necessary to celebrate Christ's birth or are we so dependent on it we rely on it when we shouldn't (like the car engine, people should look both ways before crossing the street without hearing an engine, but they don't)? When we gather to worship on Sunday morning, what is necessary other than Jesus showing up?

It's challenging, but try it. Look for skueomorphs this week. A page turning on a digital book isn't necessary, but it looks pretty and we depend on it. What else can you find? Even harder, what spiritual skeuomorphs have you made? Something to think about.

Merry Christmas.


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