Tuesday, November 01, 2011 4:27 PM
The bible business has come a long way since printing presses and door-to-door salesmen. Rather than being schlepped or sermonized, now scripture spreads on sacred streams of digital data. The advent of tablets, smartphones, and all manner of mobile computing is changing holy literature even more deeply than televangelism. Religious writing is literally at the fingertips of more people than ever before.
“Apps of the Bible are now more frequently downloaded than Angry Birds,” reports The Book Bench’s Macy Halford, “and the sacred texts of other religions aren’t far behind: there’s an iQuran, iTorah, and a digital Book of Mormon.” The diversity and popularity of scriptural and religious apps is positively astounding. In addition the basic scriptures, there are apps that allow you to compare different scriptural translations in forty-five languages; devotional apps; multimedia texts that add layers of video, recitation, explication, criticism, and commentary on top of the original verse; fun and educational scripture-based video games; and individual house of worship-centered apps that connect members of the same flock.
As you might imagine, this trend is causing some religious leaders to shout “hallelujah!” and others to rend their garments. In her article, Halford talks with experts from the monotheistic religions who express their hopes and concerns for a constantly wired congregation. Some are excited for the utilitarian aspects of many apps, such as Islamic ones that remind the faithful of prayer times or use the mobile device’s GPS to point the right direction toward Mecca. Other leaders caution that in some ways a house of holy is like a move theater: Apps and e-scriptures distract everyone around from the big show. What’s worse, some consider the digital texts an affront to the original scripture’s authority.
To that point, it’s worth considering Leslie Leyland Fields’ ruminations in Christianity Today. “We may forget at times the lineage of these words,” she writes, “but our eagerness to put the Scriptures onto scrolls first, and onto electronic screens much later, is more than a love of invention and gadgetry, I believe. It’s a timeless need for life-giving truths.”
Sources: Christianity Today, The Book Bench
Friday, April 29, 2011 12:21 PM
Readers of late have been bombarded with literary mash-ups. Who ever thought our culture would survive that Jane Austen/B-horror meme? Well, you might want to sit down for the latest literary spoof.
Playbill commissioned a video dubbed “Jersey Shore Gone Wilde” to promote a current production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The way-too-funny short features one-liners once uttered by the thick-headed, hyper-sexualized, booze-guzzling cast of MTV’s reality series Jersey Shore—but delivered with snarky wit by professional actors in 19th-century clothing.
There’s an odd appropriateness to the combination that The Book Bench’s Elizabeth Minkel touches on: “Imagining Wilde and The Situation in the same cultural sphere isn’t a particularly easy task, but after all, didn’t Wilde once write, ‘We are all in the gutter…’? Yeah, let’s just leave it at that.”
Source: The Book Bench
Monday, March 21, 2011 9:34 AM
“Among the many things the Japanese people are mourning this week are their libraries,” writes The Book Bench’s Macy Halford in memoriam. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that kickstarted a ring of Pacific tsunamis, displaced thousands of people, and terminally damaged multiple nuclear reactors recently has also shaken the Japanese library system to its knees.
Halford noticed an odd, semi-social photographic trend rumbling under the internet’s surface: Japanese people were uploading hundreds of images of denuded library shelves and fields of unorganized books. “Why libraries?” Halford wondered,
I think it has to do with what is not shown in the pictures more than with what is. Books shaken to the floor provide a good visual measurement of the power of the quake: we can easily visualize how the rows looked before, how nice and tidy they were, and we can imagine the sort of force needed to dislodge them. But the images also allow us to glimpse the destruction in a relatively benign environment—books are not people. We hope that the libraries’ caretakers are safe, and, in the buildings where only the books, not the shelves, have tumbled, we reassure ourselves that they are. In many of these photos, we can easily envision someone coming along to set things right. These are images of hope, as much as of disaster, and they speak to the idea that the things most fundamental to a culture—in this case, its codified knowledge—have not been lost.
We know how important public libraries are to a seamless, functional democracy, so we hope all of those books get shelved quickly and the wheels of knowledge start spinning again.
Source: The Book Bench
Images from yfrog and Plixi. More pictures at Togetter.
Thursday, July 01, 2010 10:49 AM
Over at Good, Anne Trubek writes that emoticons have a natural place in the history of punctuation. Moreover, she suggests that the development of punctuation marks irritated some people as much as emoticons irk today’s grammar police. Even the spaces between words are punctuation, Trubek reminds us:
A space is a punctuation mark, remember, so in those days, everyone used a script called scripta continua, which, as you may guessed, meant therewerenospacesbetweenwords. As more people began reading, itbecamehardertoreadthedamnedmanuscripts, and punctuation marks were invented to ease reading aloud.
The earliest marks indicated how a speaker’s voice should adjust to reflect the tone of the words. Punctus interrogativus is a precursor to today’s question mark, and it indicates that the reader should raise his voice to indicate inquisitiveness. Tone and voice were literal in those days: Punctuation told the speaker how to express the words he was reading out loud to his audience, or to himself. A question mark, a comma, a space between two words: These are symbols that denote written tone and voice for a primarily literate—as opposed to oral—culture. There is no significant difference between them and a modern emoticon.
It is true that some people go overboard, cluttering their writing with silly waving hands and kissy faces. But the same outpouring of new marks occurred in the Middle Ages, too, when the old hoary punctuation marks—the ones we now teach 5th graders—were new and exciting.
(Thanks, The Book Bench.)
Image by stewartpillbrow, licensed under Creative Commons.
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