Imagine that there’s a powerful, invisible force hovering above you in the sky. It sees everything, controls everything—you can keep no secrets from it. If it wanted to, it could kill you instantly.
Now what do you see—a drone? Or God? Ed Young, the pastor of the Fellowship Church, a megachurch based in Dallas-Fort Worth, with branches in Miami and London, wants you to think of both.
In three sermons delivered this month (first shared by the online journal the New Inquiry), he uses drones as a metaphor for God, who, in Young’s conception, is essentially a massive surveillance system.
“Drones are everywhere, and they make a lot of us feel uncomfortable,” Young says, striding up and down the stage in skinny jeans and a blazer, a US Air Force-branded drone looming theatrically behind him. “And I think if the truth were known, many of us feel uncomfortable even thinking about, even contemplating, a God who is omnipresent.”
Young couches his sermons explicitly in military terms, with humans cast as potential targets. “There is not an island or a mountaintop far enough away to keep you at a distance from God,” he says. At one point, he even calls the crowd’s attention to what he refers to as a drone circling above their heads, shooting video. (As it turns out, it was actually a camera attached to a robotic device on a wire, not an actual drone, a church representative tells Quartz.) Young jokingly tells his audience that the drone “has the ability, if you’re not being generous, to shock every single person who’s being stingy with God.”
Videos of the full sermons are below. But if you’re pressed for time, Young also elaborates on the theme in a series of Twitter parables: