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 ....