Stuck in the Past?

photo by Greg Smith

photo by Greg Smith

Boston Logan aka General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport or BOS is “the largest airport in the New England region and 17th-busiest airport in the United States.”  It is also home to the bank of pay phones shown at right.

Pay Phones

I traveled to the airport with colleagues, and arrived at my gate well before it was time to board the plane.  When I sat down I immediately noticed the pay phones, and had to take a picture.

I positioned myself in a seat suitable for phone watching.  I watched and waited, but never saw anyone approach much less use the pay phones.  I did, however, see many people using the phones they carried on their person both for making phone calls and for other purposes.

So What?

A few decades ago pay phones had an important role to play in busy public places, including airports.  Today they are no longer able to achieve the outcomes those responsible for their original installation imagined.  Instead, they are something people look at, take pictures of, and explain to children.

As we enter the second month of a new year, I encourage you to look around for “pay phones” in your life and in the life of your faith community.  More specifically look for things that once played important roles, but their importance and/or relevance has faded significantly.

  • List a few physical objects, practices, or policies that have gone the way of the pay phone yet continue to occupy valuable space.
  • For each item, list the top reasons you think the item lives on.
  • For each item on your list, consider what a good death might look like.  If the item died a good death, then how might something new be able to be birthed or be grown to better meet the needs and opportunities of the present situation?

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