Sunday, February 25, 2024


Virtual Becomes Real These Days

Managing Editor Emeritus Al Campbell

By Al Campbell

We are living in a “virtual” world. Many of us are still coming to grips with the notion. We can’t reach out and touch the ones we love, unless they are in our house. Grandchildren’s birthday parties are shunted until “someday.” How does a 6-year-old grasp why nobody is there to join the party? We have seen each other across the back deck, my daughter and granddaughter, but touched only through a closed door.
My son and oldest granddaughter met in the front yard, also at a distance. I can understand how lepers felt in Biblical times. They could not go near anyone and had to yell from afar.
We are told this worldwide virus disaster will pass, as do all bad things, but not at the speed we would like. In the interim, we are forced to keep our distance. I recall meeting a man who had been in the Japanese Navy. He said one of the first things he learned, “Never let your shadow fall on someone of higher rank than you.”
It was a clever way of enforcing social distancing before the phrase became popular, and it likely instilled fear of officers on those of lesser rank.
If there is something positive that has surfaced, it has come on two fronts: work and church.
In time past, my notion of “church” was a building where we went, mainly on Sunday, to worship God, sing hymns, listen to Scripture and hear sermons.
Since the virus fright has gripped the world, the building known as church has been shuttered. No longer can we enter its doors and gather together.
Thankfully, there is the internet. It is a thing I’ve often regarded with mixed emotion. It can do wonderful things, but it can also gobble my time in chunks bigger than icebergs. Casting aside my doubts, I regard it as a vehicle that allows us to join worship on Sundays, or whenever we get to log on to the website.
It has transformed the notion of church as a physical structure into a realistic concept. Church is not a building, church is the people inspired by Divine Spirit to bring a service to viewers at home.
Think what the internet has done to decimate bricks-and-mortar business, and see what it can do to other institutions, but in a beneficial way.
It can be powerful and uplifting, and helps us to cement the bonds that ordinarily we would have kept physically.
Take the same idea and transform it to the Herald.
We, Herald staff, are not where we used to be, at least for the time being. We are all over three counties, Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic. Since we are obeying the stay-at-home order to the extent possible, we are linked by internet.
I write this column from my Court House home. It is sent to somewhere that I only know as the “server.” It could be in Kansas or Manitoba for all I know. When I plunk this column there, Kim Lynch, who magically transforms my disconnected thoughts (and articles) into reality on the printed page, is located somewhere in Maurice River Township.
From home, being a mom overseeing youngsters home from school studying via distant learning, Lynch puts the stories together and onto pages where advertisements, sold remotely by the Ad Staff, are configured by graphic artists in Cape May, Dennis Township and Lower Township.
Eric Conklin, editorial assistant, and my right hand in these troubled times, is in Absecon. From there, he works as if he was within 10 feet of me.
When my computer had a glitch, as computers do at times, the Herald’s IT guru, Rob Kosinski took pity on my condition. From wherever he was, Kosinski took control of my computer, and somehow checked its internal parts, and made it “all better” so I could resume production.
When all the pieces come together, we get to review a PDF (portable document file) of the finished product.
When it gets corrected and is given a stamp of approval, the Herald so many readers can’t wait to see on Wednesdays is sent to the printer in Salisbury, Md.
As if by magic, stacks of printed Heralds appear about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Such things are proof that both church and newspapers don’t have to be confined to four walls. They are us and we are them.

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