When I was younger I studied television and electronics. One of the things I learned about the old black and white television sets was that the picture was made with a stream of electron beams shot from a cathode ray tube (CRT) commonly called the picture tube. On the neck of the picture tube was a "yoke" that was electromagnetic that pulsated an electric current that "pulled" the electron beam produced in straight-line form from the left to the right and down creating a line across the screen. The actual picture was made by pulling this beam so rapidly that it created 525 lines on the screen that were so close together they appeared as the picture. Of course sitting back from the television set the human eye was incapable of distinguishing the 525 separate lines, but merged them into a solid picture.
As the television set aged the lines in the picture became dimmer. The picture began to fade and became more difficult to see. The television set usually had a control knob somewhere in the front or the back that allowed the viewer to "brighten" or "darken" the picture. There was also a "contrast" knob that also allowed the viewer to adjust the sharpness between the dark and light so the picture became sharper. But as the set was on for many hours each day, and the viewer watched it day after day, soon many years passed and the picture had become so dull that it could hardly be seen.
The funny thing about that early television set was that as we watched it month after month, we did not see the gradual fading that was occurring within the set resulting in making the picture more difficult to see. Now if we had a new television set sitting right beside the old one, it was easy to see how the old set had faded over the years. But the truth is, we do not usually compare the picture with a new set; we compare the picture of today with the picture we had seen yesterday. There was such a small variation between the pictures from one day to the next, we just did not notice it.
I believe our society changes in a similar fashion. We only compare today with what we experienced yesterday. The change is just not significant enough for us to perceive a difference. There has been a difference, however. Let me give an example.
Recently, the day after Easter I had the opportunity to visit a preschool educational class that contained a group of four and five-year-olds. The children were happy and playing with the toys and other materials in the classroom. The Teacher was in good control of the activities and the children responded very well. Gathered on a carpet, sitting in their respective places, with the Teacher situated in the front, the group of children looked up at the Teacher and listened to the questions. The primary question for discussion was, "What did you do yesterday on Easter Sunday?"
The answers to that question were relatively compacted in responses that focused entirely on Easter egg hunts, color of the eggs used, opening presents received, receiving a gift of Easter bunnies, eating candy shaped like chickens or rabbits, having new clothes and eating a nice lunch.
It struck me as odd that not one child even remotely mentioned anything connected to Jesus. Nothing about visiting church, Sunday school, attending Mass, or a symbol of the cross. Keep in mind this school was federally funded so the Teacher could not prompt anything that even obliquely favored a "religious" response. But the children, who were only four and five years of age, really did not know anything about the separation of church and state. One would think that at least one comment would have landed on the real reason for the celebration of Easter. The conclusion that I reached was that even with the mention of the word Easter and the activities associated with that event, in our modern age it is not even "obliquely" associated with the sacrifice of Christ.
Then I thought, "What if instead of this being 2011, it was 1911, just one hundred years ago." I wonder if that would have made a difference. I believe it would have. I believe if the same age group had been asked the same question on Monday, "What did you do yesterday on Easter Sunday?" the answers would have included words like, "pray, learned about Jesus, baptism, sacrifice, Jesus on the cross, dinner with family and church."
We live in a world of incremental change. We can compare today with yesterday and it will not seem too different. But if we compare today with one hundred years ago we will see a vast difference. In this case, the change is the elimination of God in our society. Where will we be at the end of the next one hundred years?