ADVERTISING
 
Sunday, May 27   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Charlee New
 

Devotional reading in the digital age

Digital reading, often by design, makes meditation difficult, because hyperlinks outward, continually refreshing newsfeeds and flashing ad banners are constantly encouraging us to move.

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTHOR Charlee New 29 NOVEMBER 2017 16:03 h GMT+1
Many use the Bible app. / Rawpixel (Unsplash, CC)

In the 16th century, Western culture experienced a massive shift in how the general population engaged with the Bible. With the rising literacy rates, developments in print production and the translation of the Bible into vernacular languages, biblical literacy was on the rise—and the medium of engagement was the printed page.



The last several decades have seen the rise of a new medium, and a new form of literacy. For many of us, the initial response will be that reading on-screen often offers little difference to reading on the page, offering simply a representation of paper. However, the web-page and print-page are two fundamentally different mediums and as we do more and more of our reading digitally, it is shaping our reading practices. And since Christians have long-focused on the Word of God, we must be astute as to how our technologies affect our devotional reading practices.



 



1. Hyper-reading vs Meditation



What is hyper-reading? It’s a form of reading developed and evolved in the digital sphere, it relies heavily on practices such as filtering and skimming. The practices of hyper-reading have developed precisely because they are hugely helpful to the reader, who is often processing and assessing huge quantities of information, jumping from blog to newspaper to site, filtering advertising banners from articles, seeking relevant menu options, following links and more.



This type of reading is often held up against what is termed close or ‘deep’ reading, reading that involves ‘the slow and meditative possession of a book,’ it’s ‘a way of holding the self apart from the crush of the outer world,’[1] in effect, the type of reading that we would associate with biblical devotions.



So why do the different modes of reading matter? Because, as Psalm 1 tells us ‘Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.’ Digital reading, often by design, makes meditation difficult, often because hyperlinks outward, continually refreshing newsfeeds and flashing ad banners are constantly encouraging us to move, as opposed to pause. And we are re-wiring our brains to normalise moving swiftly though content.



 



2. But what about my Bible app? Is it really that bad?



In many ways, no, it’s not. The most popular Bible app (by YouVersion) has a clean interface, limited number of links, and a good reading mode. In many ways it acts as a simulation of paper Bibles. Not to mention it’s portable, you can access multiple translations and text-to-speech. It’s a uniquely helpful pocket Bible version for quick reference and easy-reading.



However, can we truly embrace a deeper, meditative mode of reading, one which allows us to reflect deeply with God on His word (and interweave that reading with prayer) on a device which is constantly connected and on which we engage in so much fast digital reading? Can we experience ‘depth’ when our practice on our phones is more often to skim in the shallows? Can we resist temptation to switch apps or look up notifications whilst reading the Bible?



Our paradigm for our relationship with God is Jesus, who frequently withdrew from the crowd to be with his Father. Today, the crowd is on our phone. Can we expect intimacy with God when reading via a device whose purpose is mass connectivity?



 



3. Let’s not be luddites



Use your paper Bible. Separate deep times of prayer and reflection from more ‘general’ reading or study, for which a Bible app is helpful and convenient. And as we learn to separate different mediums for different practices, we must pay particular attention to the next generation, the ‘digital natives’. If we, as adults, are grappling with issues of attention span, intentionality in Bible reading, meditation and reflection over the noise of contemporary media, then we at least have the memory, experience and training of being ‘unplugged’ readers. Many of them will require wisdom and guidance to inhabit ‘traditional’ devotional practices.



Finally, we must ask, what unexplored possibilities are there in the digital reading? This shift might well allow us to explore creative new ways to experience God. After all, we were not always a print-dependent culture. There were devotions and learning before mass-literacy, often through visual forms and community learning. Perhaps these might be areas in which we can re-learn forgotten practices.



Charlee New, Communications and Marketing Officer at the Jubilee Centre.



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.



 



[1] Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (1994), quoted in: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/reading-digital/0/steps/16832



 


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Devotional reading in the digital age
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement? What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship (UK) summarises>the philosophical framework that made the transgender movement so popular.

 
Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid

Delta David Gier, Conductor and Music Director, on some of the dangers for artists.

 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.