The wind was off the lake and cooling after a scorching Saturday, and instead of going to the basement after the Sunday-morning service, Arthur and Ben took their coffee mugs back up the stairs to the deck that had been built onto the back of the second story of the temple.
“It’s pleasant out here,” Arthur said.
“When I eat outside, I always worry about birds,” Ben said.
“What about the birds?”
“I worry that one of them is going to lose whatever it is that normally keeps them from flying into me.”
“You’re thinking of bats. They have a form of sonar that allows them to avoid collisions. Birds see like you and me.”
“Why can’t that bird that just flew by us have failing vision and not see me sitting here? That’s the kind of concern that caused me to seek you out as a teacher.”
“How did you do this week with the topic I gave you?”
“Instead of staying in Chicago this time, I drove to Wisconsin where I’m from and at first it seemed like everything had changed from when I was growing up, but then I realized that only the technology had changed.”
“Technology is tremendous agent of change,” Arthur said.
“It is and it isn’t. Can I use a metaphor to explain? I’m not sure if metaphors are allowed in our conversations.”
“A metaphor will be fine.”
“I think people are like climate and technology is like weather. The weather changes all the time, but climate doesn’t; and no matter how much technology changes, people stay basically the same.”
“Do you agree?”
“That people are like the climate and technology is like the weather.”
“Are you a climate-change denier?” Arthur asked.
“No, but that’s an aberration. It’s not how things naturally work; and what I saw when I was in Wisconsin was that technology was changing the way people were living and working, but my old friends weren’t any different. Their stuff was different but they really weren’t.”
“If the technology changes how people live, what about them isn’t changing?”
“Who they are isn’t changing. The person they are is the same as the person they were.”
“Do you mean their personality?”
“Maybe. . . . Should I mean something bigger?”
“That is something for you to consider,” Arthur said.
“By next Sunday?” Ben asked.
“That would be nice,” Arthur said, as he watched the approach of a bird that seemed to be on a dangerous trajectory.