Posted by: smstrouse | December 21, 2013

The Pain of Being Unconnected

imagesLast week my laptop became confused. All that appeared on the screen was a big flashing question mark. I called Applecare. First thing out of the tech guy’s mouth: is all your data backed up? Uh oh, this didn’t sound good. His diagnosis: my laptop couldn’t find its operating system; it was unable to connect  His recommendation: make an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar.

These people really are geniuses (although you don’t have to know a whole lot about how computers work for me to think you’re a genius). Drew gave me the same diagnosis: My Mac was disoriented; it couldn’t connect. Best case scenario: it was just a cable that had come loose and that was easy to fix. Worst case: the hard drive was fried and would have to be replaced, and I’d lose any data that I hadn’t backed up.

My Mac is still under warranty, so this wasn’t a big financial deal. The big deal came as Drew was writing up the work order and said, “You’ll need to leave it here for a few days.”

Oh, gasp! What would I do when I couldn’t play Words with Friends while watching TV? Or write my blog in bed? Or check Facebook while writing my sermon? I was astonished at how dependent I’ve become on my laptop. Being disconnected was not a good feeling.


The good news is that it was just the cable. All is well. I picked up my laptop today from the Apple store and am now ensconced on the sofa with the Mac on my lap, my other laptop (Onyx the Queen of Everything) having graciously agreed to move to my side.  I am once more connected.

But the disquieting experience of disconnectedness reminded me of something I once read by John Dominic Crossan. As a result of many hours spent waiting in airports and searching for electrical outlets to recharge his Mac (which he claims he chose because the Bible says ‘those who look through the windows see dimly’ – Eccl. 12:3), he found a metaphor for prayer.

In that metaphor “we are all laptops, and prayer is about empowerment by participation in and collaboration with God.”

In another place, Crossan refers to worship, asking;  “Are we like laptop computers that need regularly if not permanently to be plugged into a power-source? Plugged in, that is, to the very character or spirit of  . . . God?”

And in another: “All we laptops have to do is find an outlet and plug ourselves in.”***

He definitely spends too much time at the airport! But after my few days of being Mac-less,  I get what he’s saying. It doesn’t feel good to be disconnected, unplugged from the Divine Source. It hurts when my battery is depleted and I can’t get recharged or reconnected. I’m disempowered when a cable goes bad and all I get on the screen of my psyche is a big flashing question mark.

And this isn’t just a Christian thing or even necessarily a ‘religious’ thing. ‘Spiritual’ might cover it. But I think it’s bigger than those words, in the sense that we want to be connected to something Bigger, to a hard drive that never goes bad, never loses power. My connection, my cable might need some work now and then (well, pretty often, actually), but the hard drive will never fail.

The challenge for us today us to find those places to plug in (or, if you’re a religious leader: to provide those places).

  • Where have you found your connection to the Divine Source?
  • What advice could you give someone looking for a way to get plugged in?
  • How can the church do a better job of being like electrical outlets?

***First Light: Jesus and the Kingdom of God
      The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer



  1. I enjoyed this post immensely. I often think that technology has opened so many more ways to understand our connection to the world outside of what we can see. Thinking of technology is how I have clarified my beliefs about access to The Holy Spirit.


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