Gadgets are not the Scriptures

The Depersonalization of the Scriptures

Is technology making the expressions “Family Bible” and “Personal Copy/Set of the Scriptures”  obsolete?

One Sunday, a few months ago, I was sitting with the Elder (son) in church. I noticed he did not have his Scriptures with him so I asked where they were. He gave me a guilty and sorry smile, and whispered that they were outside in his car. And then with a jocular nudge at my side, he showed me his smartphone and said, “Here!” I was a little miffed but decided to continue our father-son repartee through my eyebrow flashes, albeit in a more indignant manner.

But then something which I had dismissed nonchalantly up to that point, started to stir my cognitive - more than my emotional and spiritual - thoughts again. It’s about gadgets (cell/mobile phones, ebooks, iPads, Kindles, etc.) in church, especially as substitutes and replacements for the real, tangible, hard copy version of the Scriptures.

The first such thought that came to mind was “Gadgets are not  the Scriptures.” These devices are only mediums through which the Scriptures can be read and accessed. (And I did make that clear to the Elder after church.) I may not be as repulsed if they are used for other purposes like reading a talk or rendering music, etc., but when someone uses them in the place of a personal, hard copy version of the Scriptures, then I would have a qualm about it.

I am one of those people who is timely in accepting and adapting to change especially in technology. After all, I am a compunerd, but replacing or substituting a personal hard copy set of the Scriptures with a gadget is something that I am not even close - if ever - to considering. And even if I can access the Scriptures electronically during church and other meetings - which I presently can - I would still not abandon or discard my personal copy of the Scriptures.

Honestly, I just cannot picture myself telling one of my children to go and get my Scriptures and he/she returns with an iPhone 5 or a Kindle. It’s preposterous to say the least. Scriptures to me are supposed to be separate, exclusive, tangible, valuable and, yes, personal. All these are undermined, if not lost, by having  separate means or conduits to accessing them. By these same means, the feeling that scriptures are detached and further removed from me/us becomes more real. They are not personal anymore; plus I would feel as if they’re on an as-needed or rental basis, considering that with these gadgets, more often than not, we pay for Internet services to access Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc.

Instantaneousness is a great benefit of the technological devices. And who would not want to stay abreast with these advances and innovation? Related material for scripture study and learning are at our fingertips in seconds and nanoseconds. But still, there’s something unique, intimate, spiritual, sentimental and personal about having one’s own hard copy set of the Scriptures, one that you can mark, notate, cross reference and then keep it on the shelf or on the night stand. That same set, especially the father’s, can then be kept as a family heirloom, as the Bible has been with many families.

Moreover, I do not want my Scriptures to be bundled - and bungled - with/by other materials or applications. Imagine having a huge all-in-one encyclopedic book and wedged right in the middle of it, is the Bible. The purity and sacredness of the Scriptures can and will be greatly undermined and/or compromised by these extraneous - and often scabrous - material. You now have the good, the bad, the ugly and the secular mingled with the Scriptures. Therefore, convenience should not be our only or ultimate and best excuse for replacing the Scriptures with the so-called i (for instant) - devices.

Now, though my Church has not taken - and may never will in respect for individual choice - an official position on this matter, I have and will commit to keeping and embracing my personal hard copy version of the Scriptures. At the same time I will respect others including half the members of my Sunday School class who still turn the pages of their “scriptures” the old-fashioned way (with their fingers) only that they now do it by touching a screen.   LOL!

Have a good weekend ....


Finally ...

... starting to slowly get over his leaving. Since the day he received - and opened - his mission call (May 30th),  the day he entered the Missionary Training Center ( July 25th), to the farewell at the airport (August 13th), I am finally starting to get back some normalcy in my life. Accordingly, therefore, instead of a post as usual, I’ll just have a photo essay. It has been a bitter sweet experience which is, however, becoming sweeter (than bitter) by the week as he writes home telling me, his Mom and the whole family that - as the hymn title proclaims - "Sweet Is The Work". His Sister sister (hahaa) agrees as she, too, is tasting the same sweetness as she labors in her part of the Lord's vineyard.

"I hope they call me on a mission...."

Our Tulafale (Orator)

... with sisters at MTC (Inset: Sister sister currently serving too)

...with Mom - on Sunday of his farewell during which he gave an inspiring talk

... with Dad at the MTC (Missionary Training Center)

... boarding flight with more members of the "army"
... onward Christian soldiers
... our "General Conference babies" - bd. Oct 5th and April 6th

...and both now Called to Serve


Some back to school memories

In parts of China, BYO school supplies include desks

By NBC News
BEIJING –– While millions of students all over the world return to school this month, youngsters in one part of China were expected to bring not just pencils and notebooks, but their own desks and chairs when school opened.

Been there, done that. The article is a throwback to my own Primary/Elementary School days. My desk was not that big though; it was small and low because my class did not sit on chairs.

My grandfather often used scraps from banana crates to build my desks. I had several during my Elementary School years. In the classrooms, the students would sit cross-legged and then hunch over to write on the desks. Books, pencils and other school supplies were also provided by the students themselves.

At the end of each school day, the assigned student monitors would clean the classroom and would stack the desks in a pile in one of the corners. At the end of the term the desks will be taken home, but there were some students who would take their desks home every day to avoid any sustained damage from the pile.

The desks - from their sameness - in this Samoan classroom look like they were built and provided by the school. It is however a close representation of a typical Elementary classroom in my day, and which may still exist to this day in some rural villages.  School uniforms were equalizers and helped the parents save what little money they had, instead of doing any lavish shopping relative to today's sprees.