Last Friday, the doughnut chain Krispy Kreme turned 77. To celebrate, the company sold a dozen original glazed doughnuts for 77 cents, after customers bought the first dozen at regular price. My wife and I saw this story and reminisced: after she agreed to marry me 34 years ago, I took her out for a doughnut. Once a romantic, always a romantic.
Much has changed since Vernon Rudolph began selling his doughnuts to local grocery stores in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The company he founded now has stores in 500 international locations and offers a “Hot Light App” which alerts customers’ cell phones when its doughnuts are hot. To me, their story is a metaphor of our times.
The technological revolution is transforming life as we know it. Today’s New York Times contains as much information as colonial Americans encountered in their lives. Facebook‘s one billion members make it the third largest nation in the world, behind China and India. One in five couples meet online; one in five divorces are blamed on Facebook.
Our global connectivity means we can watch the conflict between Israel and Hamas in real time. People in more than 200 countries watched yesterday’s World Cup final, many of them online. Sarah Palin’s tweets make global headlines. The online video service Netflix garnered 31 Emmy nominations, more than Fox. IBM is investing $3 billion in computer designs that could pave the way for cognitive computers that mimic brain functionality.
While technology is changing our world, human nature doesn’t change. Doughnuts have been around since at least 1809, but they still generate more than $500 million a year in sales. Social media gives us new ways to talk about our hopes and fears, but they’re the same hopes and fears. The Bible is still relevant, because the issues it addresses are still relevant.
When I was in the United Kingdom recently, I marveled at the majesty of its cathedrals. Most were built over centuries. The architects who planned them would never see them finished. One structure we visited began as a bell tower in the 12th century; the sanctuary was not finished until 400 years later. But those who spent their lives working on these magnificent structures knew that they were contributing to something greater than themselves.
Is your life building a cathedral to the glory of Jesus or a cottage to the glory of self?