The pros and cons of reading an analog Bible

img_9267.jpgBy analog, I mean a Bible printed on paper rather than the (digital) bible app on my phone or computer. I’m thankful for each. I also thankful for having the Bible at my fingertips in any of its forms. Remember, just five hundred or so years ago, virtually no one read the Bible. Until the Reformation and the invention of the printing press, few actually had one.

On my phone, I usually read from my Accordance app. On the computer, I also have Accordance, and I’ll often go to Biblegateway.com.

Anyway, here are the pros of an analog bible:

  • You can underline, circle, highlight, make notes, and draw pictures on the page for future reference. I can’t do nearly as much marking on my phone.
  • It’s easier to catch the context with a couple of pages right there in front of you. Scrolling through the text on my phone is more difficult.
  • Spill coffee? No problem with the printed version. Panic time with a phone. With an analog bible, it’s a badge of honor. Yep, I was up reading my bible this morning while I was drinking my coffee.
  • It’s easier to focus. My analog bible never interrupts my reading with texts, weather alerts, or phone calls. Yes, I could turn all those off, but I rarely do.
  • It slows you down a little. It’s good to slow down and think about what I’m reading. I can read much faster on my phone. I set the font larger, so there are fewer words on the page, and I can really zip along as I scroll through a passage or book.
  • I can actually look up passages more quickly with a printed bible.
  • No one has a problem with someone paging through a bible in church. Everyone is suspicious if you claim you are using your phone’s bible app in church!
  • Battery life is never an issue with an analog bible!

The cons of using the analog bible are also the strengths of the digital form:

  • It’s slower. I can read on my phone much faster. When I want to, I can really cruise through scripture.
  • With a printed bible, I don’t have the resources at my fingertips that are on my phone or computer. In the digital world, I can immediately see a word in the original language, read a passage in another translation, find a word or phrase in other verses, read a commentary, find out where a place is, or find out who a person is. I can find all that info in some books I have, but it takes a lot longer. A study Bible is helpful, but I can’t fit it into my pocket.
  • I like a larger print bible now, and they aren’t as easy to find as the ones with minuscule font on extremely thin paper. The footnotes and cross references are even smaller. On my phone, I can really ramp up the text size so I almost don’t need my glasses.
  • After a while, all the pages are marked up, stained, folded, torn here and there, and falling out. Some pens and highlighters bleed through the pages. It takes a while, but it eventually happens to all my bibles. I never have to duct tape the binding of a digital bible.

So, for me, it’s a tossup. It depends what I am doing. I always use an analog bible for preaching, teaching and visits. I always use a digital form for preparing sermons and bible classes. I use both for my daily devotional reading.

That’s one of the things that has changed in ministry. When I started, everything was in a book. Now just about everything is online. In act, I can even have Alexa or Siri read the bible to me! Pretty cool.

 

Just drinking coffee. Period.

IMG_7949A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in Starbucks, in between appointment, drinking coffee and scrolling through some Reddit stuff when — get this — this guy came in, sat down, and did nothing else other than enjoy his coffee. That’s right, no phone, no book, no tablet, no computer, no friend to talk to, nothing. He just sat there and sipped his venti whatever. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen someone do that before. There were plenty of other people there, some like me focused on a smartphone screen. A few were engrossed in their laptops. A couple of friends were talking.

I began wondering, “Would Starbucks even exist if we didn’t have our electronics to amuse us and their wifi to connect us as we drank lattes and ate scones?”

You do it and I do it. Whenever we sit down – in the car, in church, in the bathroom, watching TV, at concerts, at work, in a restaurant, at the pool, at the gym, stripped naked waiting for the doctor to come in – we pull out a phone to find out what’s going on. I’m sure sociologists and psychologists have a field day with this behavior.

I think I may have seen another guy do this at a bar. He was just sitting there drinking a beer. He wasn’t doing anything else.

I might have to try this. I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

For some, this is church (part 2)

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Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

For me, the “church” has always been church. But there are other gatherings that function as “church” for them and their families.

It was quite a while ago, but I vividly remember a conversation with some visitors to our church. They only came the one time and wouldn’t be back because their children were involved in a youth hockey league. But they were OK with that, because in their words, “Hockey teaches our kids the same things as church: teamwork, loyalty, sacrifice and hard work.” For them, the hockey experience was church.

In another conversation, an on and off attender explained that they got more support, inspiration and fellowship from their lodge than from the church. Church for them had been filled with conflict, controversy, and contradiction. Their lodge encounter was everything that they thought the church should be. For them, that was church.

Yet a third person found church in a group that met at a coffee shop each week. There they could talk openly about their struggles, and the others would listen. There was no condemnation, only affirmation. The group was loyal, dependable and supportive. Since they found everything they needed right there over a cup of coffee, who needs church. Their coffee-shop group was church to them.

Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook can provide the support and purpose that people seek through online groups and communities. His mission is to bring people — 1 billion people — together in this way.

I know that the church is about more than just a support group. But why do some churches seem unable to provide the connection, support and therapy that many desire and find elsewhere?

Maybe Satan doesn’t care if you invest your time and energy into a team, a lodge or coffee. But he’ll do his best to make your church seem like the last place you’ll find what you are looking for.

 

Coffee crisis

Coffee maker crisis. The most annoying thing in our lives right now, at least first thing in the morning, is our coffee maker. We’ve become totally dependent on a Keurig one cup coffee maker, which has developed a mind of its own.

Here’s the problem: you never know how much coffee will end up in your cup. Sometimes it is a normal 8 oz. serving, exactly what you expect. Other times, the coffee maker holds back, giving you a couple ounces of really strong stuff. Still other times, you get more than you expected, more than will fit in the cup you have. I’ve cleaned it, de-scaled it, done everything I’m supposed to do, and we still can’t get the one thing we really want to work in the morning to work in the morning.

I know, this really isn’t much of a crisis, especially when people in Haiti don’t have water to drink and plenty of people in the world have no food much less a cup of coffee. It just shows how easy it is to get hooked on a convenience. This morning I reflected on the olden days when we had to get up and actually brew a cup of coffee, a process that could take 10 minutes. Now we call that roughing it.

There are lots of coffee makers on sale right now, so we’ll probably just shop around for a new one. Then my mind can move on to bigger and better things.