Technology and Worship

Hey! You with the technology!

I’ve heard arguments for and against the increasing amount of technology that permeates daily life. It affects social life, communication skills, interpersonal interaction, transportation of information, etc.… Now the interaction between technology and worship has come into question in this original article, which prompted this question on the CNN religion blog: “Do smart phones produce dumb worshipers?”

It’s becoming more common for churchgoers to make sure they have their phone in their pocket than to remember their Bible to church. Instead of having to remember where in the world Habakkuk is located, they simply pull out the latest smart phone and make use of the search features. Instead of trying to quietly flip the thin pages, they scroll on the touchpad without a sound.

Are these changes in worship and participation for the better? For those of you who have smart phones and use them this way, do you find yourself distracted more during the sermon? Or is this yet another handy tool that your phone can provide you? Is there still something to be said for the tradition of holding the actual Word of God in your hands? If God created us for relationship, does this trend impede or enhance our Spiritual relationships?

I don’t personally have a problem with technology at all. In fact I’m at the very least intrigued, if not a fan of most of the new developments. But I wonder if there are some places that should remain free from the distractions that technology can cause, namely church services. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer to hold my well-worn Bible in my hands, making notes in the margins and underlining words of significance that I should remember for the future.


Techno worship
It is not exactly on Point but close. The Ligonier National Conference this year featured a short preconference session on Bit Bytes and the Bible: Social Networking and the Church. The featured speakers included Tim Challies noted blogger ( google him ) and Dr. Al Mohler ( radio FB and Twitter ) and two other speakers. The subject was how does the Church engage the culture in the context of these social media and likewise how does use of the social media affect our relationships.

What related that session to me from this blog was the discussion of the kindle or iPhone based Bible in the pew. Dr. Mohler also of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville KY made some comments that resonated with me in addressing the dangers of the electronic media as it relates to the great books and the Great Book. His contention is that ordered thought is by definition linear. It happens in a particular order. So from there he claims that the linearity of the paper and glue book most clearly appeals to the human intellect. We learn best as we read linearly. A mix and jumble of ideas and images does not serve us well to learn or to learn of God. The Redemption Narrative is likewise a linear story, with a particular declaration, crisis and resolution that in the context of the Bible as a linear Book is most clearly presented.

So how does the linear thing fit in with the electronic version, in light of the note of the other apps being a distraction.

I hope that I have represented Dr. Mohler correctly. If I have not my apologies to him and to the audience of the Point. I relayed it as best I could from memory and the strong impression his talk left with me. I am not sure when the lectures will be available at the Ligonier website.

I am a paper and glue guy and even now have difficulty in transitioning to the wonderful time saving and space saving electronic study tools. I'll take a book anytime but I understand the predicament that LeeQuod finds himself in. I have to work out which books to take on my infrequent travel. Sometimes I leave the shave kit home and use a hotel razor.

BTW, I say go with the NASB.
Another argument for keeping the paper Bible aroun
don't care if persons have the Bible on Kindle...But I still see at least one more reason to keep around that paper and leather Bible!

The little corner of my brain (my conspiracy file) says..."What if we gave up all printed books? And then someone started changing the Kindle based texts to reflect current politically correct ideas instead of the actual texts???
What would be truly scary would be a change in the digital formats, with the loss of hardware and software that could read them - rather like this: (The second paragraph under the "Search for the missing tapes" header mentions the concern about equipment that could read the format.)

Up until a few years ago I still had some Sony Betamax videotapes. And, some sermons/lectures on cassette tape. (No 8-track, though.) I'm slowly converting some LP records into digital format. And I think I destroyed my last few 5-inch floppy disks a while ago.

So I worry a bit about formats that can only be read on a particular device. In particular, the notes we record could become obsolete and thereby unreadable - rather like book pages that get wet or catch fire, I suppose.

But to Erika's larger point, how many churches still rely on hymnals instead of a projector and PowerPoint? And the larger ones couldn't function without cameras to project the pastor's face onto the big screen; people way in the back couldn't see otherwise. Heh - maybe someday we'll all be hunched over personal video players, receiving live feeds, and listening via headphones. No need to even look up to the stage. Tweet your participation!! ;-)

I saw an article once about how "television created Billy Graham", but I'd have to search to find it. I suppose the same ould be said for radio, before that.
There are places to put odds and ends in an e-reader, and besides, it has a case.
There's something in that, LeeQuod. When my grandpa died, we found some precious things that he had kept in his Bible (letters and such) -- things that we wouldn't have been able to find in an e-reader!
OK, I'm done trying to joke with Jason
...for now, anyway. (Maybe I ticked him off, or maybe this is too sensitive an issue, or maybe he's just in "take everything very literally" mode. Irrespective, it's all good between me and him as far as I'm concerned.) It's time I added something substantive here.

Erika, I like having a way to capture notes and bookmarks, and to quickly jump between passages (especially if I know them in advance). But the presence of other applications is very distracting.

Other advantages include the fact that I always have my phone with me, and it's lightweight. I travel a lot, and a fullblown copy of the Bible is rather heavy and bulky - and gets beat to pieces in checked luggage.

Disadvantages include a small font size (for smartphones; ebook readers get around this), cumbersome highlighting and note-taking versus using a pen on paper, and battery life. And the usual forgetting to turn on/off the vibrate mode during worship.

Due to my travel schedule, I'm really dependent on technology (email, podcasts, websites, and particularly blogs) to stay in touch with the broader Christian community. I'm currently deciding which ebook version of The Bible that I want. (Torn between NIV, NASB, NKJV and The Message - and I don't think the latter has been published in electronic format yet.)

I do wonder how my grandchildren would ever pick up an ereader and find my notes, the way I can do with my father-in-law's Bibles, or even one I found from a relative of mine from about 100 years ago that had verse references written in the front.

And a joke: R.C. Sproul once said that the turning of Bible pages was "Baptist air conditioning" (meaning that it improved circulation, and a reference to how many early Baptist churches had little money for infrastructure). He then said that Baptists brought their Bibles to church, while his fellow Presbyterians would each bring a copy of "Robert's Rules of Order". Based on my experience with both denominations, that seems about right - and very amusing, too.
No one notices, and I don't need headphones.
Jason, either this is one of your tongue-in-cheek moments which is sadly missing its ;-) to alert me that you're being ironically humorous, or else you have me confused with labrialum (who might well try to burn a Kindle that was being read during a church service).

Just to be clear, I meant (as did POG) "burning" in the sense of providing spiritual illumination.

However, my curiosity is aroused - you read during preaching? Does no one object to you wearing noise-cancelling headphones? :-) :-) :-)
I don't think so. Besides kindles are made of metal with a plastic shell. They would melt before burning, indeed metal can't burn at all.
Inspired by Mr. Taylor - who knew?!
Ah, Jason, so it was *you* that Point of Grace was singing about in their hit song "Keep the Kindle Burning"!

Oh - oops.
Actually, to me, it's usually the sermon that distracts from the sermon. My Kindle keeps it from being unbearable.

With a Kindle you can keep the Word of God in your hands and even make notes in the margins. Although to be honest, I prefer reading theological essays in Church which is reasonably interesting while paying due recognition to the fact of being in Church.

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