Outdated, Obsolete Oddities

If you chance to own an older home or visit one, you may be surprised by the number of items found which seem not to serve any legitimate purpose. These may have been necessities or even luxuries just a few short decades ago. Now these oddities have passed into obscurity because of new inventions.

In one of these older homes you might check out the medicine cabinet. Inside you can find a small coin size slit in the back. Men who shaved with straight razors would deposit their dull blades into these slot. Where did they go from there? Once I replaced an old medicine cabinet and discovered a pile of rusty old razor blades piled up in the wall.

If you happen to be in a home from around the turn of the 19th century you might discover a button on the wall or even the floor. These were connected to electrical wires and known as “butler buttons.” The home owner would press these to summon a servant. Most of these have now been removed, covered up with paint or a rug.

The use of the cellphone has caused many changes inside the home. Gone are the bulky rotary dial phones and the phone niches found in the hallway or kitchen. One had to stand up to take or make a call. Also made obsolete are the large answering machines. Now we have voicemail or texting on our cellphones. This new generation knows nothing of a landline or phone jack or having to wait with longsuffering to use the phone, because the neighbors were using the “party line.”

When it comes to office equipment, home computers with Wi-Fi connections to the internet have made fax machines and typewriters outdated. Rolodexes have also been replaced with an electronic version on our phones and computers. Not only has more space been freed up on the desk but also on the family book shelf. The large multi-volume set of encyclopedias have been made superfluous. Now if you want to know the gross national product of Kenya or the circumference of Jupiter you can just ask Google.

Perhaps the area of the home which has seen the most changed is around the old entertainment center. The large box television sitting on the floor has been replaced by the large screen flat TV mounted on the wall. These are smart and have Wi-Fi so no need for a set of rabbit ear antennas to position just right to achieve good reception, thus allowing you to watch the ballgame. Missing from the entertainment center is the VCR along with the collection of videotapes. We still have a library of Disney classic videos. Also missing is the videotape rewinder. While renting videotapes from Blockbuster (also gone) the customer was reminded to “Be Kind, Rewind.” At some rental locations, customers were charged fifty cents for failing to be kind.

Most of these changes have been good and more efficient for the lives of home owners. Likewise there have been many changed in the past in regard to religion and worship. When Christ came, many things became obsolete. Before His death on the cross every morning and evening there were animal sacrifices at the altar. In fact, throughout the year many lambs, rams, goats, and heifers were sacrificed. Now “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). The blood of bulls and goats are obsolete (Heb. 10:4). The need for a separate priesthood has been replaced with all the saints serving as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). The place of worship was the Tabernacle then the Temple in Jerusalem and now Jesus says, “the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:21,23). Things are better in regard to phones and entertainment, according to Hebrews in Christ we have “a better hope? (7:19); “a better covenant” (7:22); “better promises” (8:6); “better sacrifices” (9:23); and a “better resurrection” (11:35).

One day we can look forward to the time when rubber gloves, stay-in-place orders, hand sanitizer, and the wearing of mask will be a thing of the past.

— Daniel R. Vess

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