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Hi Church Family,

This is from Jo Ray:


I would like to compose a paean to modernity, but since I write wooden poetry, I shall have to stick to prose. I am having a rush of gratitude for living in 2017 rather than one hundred years earlier. Two recent experiences have brought on this singular feeling, which I want to share in case it rings a bell in your consciousness. The first experience happened two weeks ago when I had my first appointment with a new dentist because my regular dentist practices in Quincy, which is connected to Chico by a dangerous road full of curves, rock slides, and cliffs plunging into deep ravines through which the Feather River roars and sputters. In the winter, the road might be covered with ice or snow. My husband, who himself is a retired dentist, decided that the trip was too dangerous for people of our advanced age, so we found Dr. Law at the Rolling Hills Clinic in Corning to mend a bicuspid I had broken.

On the day of my first appointment, I was ushered into the most amazing operatory I have ever seen. It looked like a set from a movie about outer space. The cream leather dental chair was covered with a sheet of germ-free plastic that could be replaced for each new patient. The overhead light could be adjusted every which way, and all other items by which I was surrounded seemed to call out 21st century know how. Robotic arms could be moved straight or in circles, and my chair could be elevated or dropped by the mere push of a button. When the dentist arrived, garbed in a throw-away burgundy medical jacket, she was accompanied by an assistant wearing a disposable uniform of the same plush color. After Dr. Law explained to me in detail what the procedure would be during this session, her assistant fitted me with a pair of safety goggles to protect my eyes. Then the real work began as the dentist donned latex gloves and some kind of headgear featuring a penetrating light on her forehead, which made her look skillful but also a bit extraterrestrial. While I waited for the numbing effect of the Lidocain, which the dentist had painlessly injected , my mind bolted back to my childhood in Bern, Switzerland.

Mind you, Switzerland in the 1930's had an international reputation as a country where modern dentistry was practiced. In fact, the Swiss government had gained world recognition for placing fluoride in all public drinking water so as to prevent cavities in children's teeth. Despite these precautions, it was common to see women and men in their thirties wearing full dentures or strolling about with several teeth missing. Cosmetic dentistry was reserved for American movie stars and was unknown among ordinary people. If a kid had severe buck teeth, he or she might wear a wire attached to rubber bands for several years until the protruding teeth receded. Orthodontics was an unknown term. When I grew up, going to the dentist was considered torture because the drilling was always performed without palliative and with an old-fashioned drill. The experience was always dreadful.

I remember my father having a molar extracted without a shot or pill of any kind. In sum, modern Swiss dentistry in those days was savage compared to what I experienced in Corning. The area around my broken tooth was numbed, and Dr.Law drilled away nonstop with a high-powered drill while her assistant sprayed water into my mouth and vacuumed away any blood or debris. I can't say that I was thrilled by the experience, but it was certainly painless and fast. I kept thinking how grateful I was to be living now and not then.

The second experience took place after Mother's Day when my husband and I decided to sell our Tahoe cabin because it had become too labor-intensive and too expensive for a couple of our vintage. I had experienced the sale of two properties twenty years ago, so I was familiar with terms like "appraisal," "disclosure," "multiple listing," "escrow," and the like. But what this modern young realtor came up with was on a different level. Before we contracted with her, she already had the statistics on how many sales some competing realtors had completed from 2015-2017. She had photos at our disposal of any property that was similar to ours and at what price it had sold. Her sales strategy boggled my mind because it was so high tech-involving online listings, hundreds of realtors or brokers who could be galvanized into action by iPhone, website, or email contact, and a questionnaire for the sellers to fill out after it slid off the printer before our eyes.

She had at her disposal legal help, repairmen, cleners, and even a company who would do an estate sale for you in case you did not want a turnkey sale. Now, compare modern real estate practices to the "good old days" when sales were completed with a handshake or by signing over the title to one's property-sometimes without a witness. True, the old procedure was simpler and less time consuming than the modern, but consider how much corruption or unintended dishonesty would prevail if we were still transferring properties under old traditions. Even a century ago, houses with dangerous defects were sold to unsuspecting customers who were dazzled by a cheap deal. Today, realtors are held to a tighter standard of security and regulation. They are trained to be law abiding. I think that after we close escrow on our property, we shall feel safe and secure.

How fortunate we are to be living now and not a century ago. God controls history and science in astounding ways. Miracles continue to happen. Think of all the advances made in medicine via antibiotics, DNA specialized chemo, pain relievers, orthopedic implants, and high-tech surgeries. Business is constantly restrained by regulations that make fraud difficult. Praise our wondrous Creator! God is in his heaven and he has strategies. That is my paean to modernity.

--You've got to be a fool to want to stop the march of time. (Pierre Auguste Renoir)

--But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase. (Daniel 12:4, NKJV)

Jo Ray Metherell