Friday, August 14, 2009

Tradition or Technology?

A few days ago I was excited about a new application on my iPhone that has 16 english translations of the Bible, and then more in other languages as well. (if you don't have an iPhone you can still use this on your computer....

I'm really excited about this and so I begin thinking: With 16 translations to choose from, do I even need to bring my "real" Bible to church on Sunday mornings? 16 translations! From my favorite ESV to the one that my pastor usually uses on Sunday morning, the NLT. This has the Amplified, KJV, NKJV, NASB, The Message, NIV, NET.... need I go on?

I was taught to bring a Bible to church with me. Always. Before I could even read I brought a Bible to church, so it's just one of those things that I do without thinking much. I suppose for many it's not as important these days to bring a Bible because the Scripture at our church is prominently displayed for us on the screens in the same translation that the Pastor is teaching from. Last week we had a guest speaker who preached from Jeremiah and did not use the screens to put up the Scripture he was preaching from and I heard a sound I don't usually hear: Pages rustling. I looked around and was realized that in almost every row there was at least one person looking up the verses in their Bible. (in my row, there were 3 Bibles being opened) I loved the sound.

I am incredibly partial to "real" books and "real" Bibles. I love the feel of actual paper pages, to me it's more than a book. Plus, I enjoy being able to freely lend my books to others and love seeing all my beloved titles on my bookshelf. I love the idea of a Kindle or E-books because it's a lot easier and less cumbersome to go on vacation with ebooks loaded on a kindle instead of stowing 5 or 6 heavy books in my suitcase! But I simply still prefer "real" books. I know, this could change someday but I'm not sure.... I really love my books.

And yet... (two of my favorite words, dreaded words for others) and yet, I am really tempted to simply bring an iPhone to church and access The Word in digital medium. Why not? But I'm hesitant. First, I already am given a bad time about having my iPhone with me in church. People don't know if I'm playing a game, checking email or facebook or tweeting. The reality is that it's quite possible I could be taking notes on my iPhone or reading my Bible. But why would I even need to "turn to Colossians" in my Bible or iPhone if it's already on the church's screen anyways? Could it be I just bring a Bible out of tradition? So, if that is true, I guess, out of "tradition" I'd want to bring my trusted "real" Bible, the one that's encased in leather. (or fake leather)

I'm really wrestling with all this. (I know it's silly) First, when I have brought out my iPhone, it's a bit annoying. My church usually is pretty dimly lit in the auditorium/sanctuary. Actually, it's probably easier to read the Bible on my iPhone than in book form, but to do so creates a "glow"..... it's a bit distracting for others. Perhaps in a few years (or months) when everyone has a phone that can do everything but open a bottle of beer people won't feel it's so distracting to be reading the Bible on their phone. Until then, I am trying to be considerate. (and yes, I admit, I'd be tempted to check my email.

So, I still haven't addressed the use of twitter during church. Not sure I'm up for that one yet. :-) After all, if most of my friends take issue with me reading the Bible on my iPhone and taking notes on my iPhone, I perhaps don't wish to know what they'd think of twitter!


  1. I agree with you V, the actual feel of a book differs so greatly from an IPhone or E-Book etc, I know its the in thing, but there is an aesthetic to books from the covers, the print size, weight, to when it was published, a superb blend of history and solitude. Each has a personality of its own whereas technology in regards to electronic books is sterile. In a way this is why I still buy vinyl, the artwork, the feel, the sound which is vastly different than CDs, Ipods or MP3s etc, I still use these other tools, but its about a different more beautiful, I think, kind of aesthetic. Though people may be unaware...or simply undecided. I think you should read and use whatever tools help YOU at church though friends may not understand, actually can you email during the service to tell me what Dan is saying :)

  2. Ed, if you had twitter I could tweet all about Dan's sermon! My impressions too! Actually, he'd be fine with me using twitter in church, it's my fellow parishioners that would have the problem!
    I completely agree with you about books and their blend of history and solitude, personality etc. I recently purchased a 1942 copy of Lloyd Douglas' The Robe simply because I had read it in jr. high in a similar old book. The bookseller sent me a message: YOU DO KNOW THIS IS TH 1942 VERSION? NOTHING WRONG WITH THE BOOK, JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWARE OF IT'S AGE. I replied yep.... it's the reason I want it. I guess I'm crazy. I liked it, yellowed, musty pages and all.
    I love everything about a tightly bound book: the crispness of the pages, the smell of a brand new book, the font, the cover design, everything.
    Thanks for your comment, my friend. And I'll email you my sermon notes (though probably after church) if you email me your pastor's notes. :-)