Today I visited a man in hospital to give him communion. It is likely this will be the last time he ever partakes of the Lord’s supper. His body is slowly shutting down and he could hardly speak. I spent time with him reading the scriptures and preparing him for a good death.
As I was leaving to visit the man I almost forgot to grab my Bible. I had my iPad and therefore my electronic Bibles but I did not have an actual Bible with me. It occurred to me at that moment how inappropriate it would be to stand before someone with the cup and the bread and then whip out the iPad and start reading the Bible. I suppose if that is all I had with me then it would have had to do. However, it felt to me as if it using an e-reader to read the Bible to the dying was in some way cheapening what I was doing in that room at that moment. It’s as if the Holy in Holy Scriptures would have been lost. Maybe I am being sentimental, maybe I am listening to my conscience.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the rise of e-books and electronic devices in class room and church. Today I was once again I was reminded of the importance (for me at least) of the Bible as a book. Electronic Bibles may be convenient and they might be a great new way to engage the scriptures, nevertheless, in my mind at least the Bible should feel like something. In the same way the physical aspects of the Lord’s Supper represent the theological meaning I also wonder if the Bible as book, with pages and leather bound covers, represent the presence of God in written form. Does the book itself remind us that God is with us?
I continually wrestle with how much I am allowing electronic media and devises rule my life. I wouldn’t say I am addicted but I could easily say I am distracted. But am I fighting a losing battle? Is this the same battle they fought with the advent of the printing press and the telephone or even TV? Should we embrace new technologies and the way they are shaping our lives or should we stand fast against the tide of new technologies?
I finish with this quote about new technologies,
“The new technology will change the way we understand truth; it will change the way we use language; it will erode our memories and our relationships; it will take the soul out of language and turn it into a mere “image” a deceitful apparition of true understanding. In short, this new technology is not merely a useful invention; it is something that threatens the very fabric of our society.”
Is this a quote about blogs? About the internet or Facebook? No. It is Plato, written in the fourth century BC about the shift from an oral culture to a written culture! [As quoted by Ben Myers]