Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Biblical Text Suffers at Hands of Modern Txting

While I wasattending the Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting in New Zealand, I came a cross a rather interesting article that I have reproduced below.

While the research findings highlighted below as carried out in New Zealand seem to be true as well in other parts of the developed world, I doubt the results would be very much different if similar research is carried out in Malaysia. Based on my conversations with many pastors coupled with my personal experience, it seems to me that the level of biblical literacy among church goers has dropped significantly over the years, particularly among the younger generation.

If similar bibleathon is carried out in Malaysia, would there be any takers?

Biblical text suffers at hands of modern txting
By JENNY LING - The Dominion Post Saturday, 19 July 2008

The church faces a "crisis" as the number of people bothering to read the Bible plummets, research has found.

Daily readership of the biggest-selling book in history has dropped to about 10 per cent for both the Christian and total population as the ancient text competes with modern technology and changing modes of communication.

The Bible Society, which undertook the research, is now working on a raft of "creative strategies" - including websites, podcasts, audio broadcasts and text messaging - to get the younger generation hooked.

Society spokesman Stephen Opie said though the Bible was readily available, with 60,000 copies sold last year, it was "tending to sit on the shelf" in homes.

"That is a very scary prospect for the future of the church. The Bible is fundamental to Christianity," he said.

"People aren't understanding it, they don't know it and they don't know the over-arching story. It is a crisis - especially for the church."

Modern technology such as the Internet and mobile phones had played a big part in the slump, Mr Opie said.

"Communication is getting short and sharp. People are moving away from reading large chunks of text.

"People would rather plug in their i-Pod in their ears than open up a bible."

More than 3300 people responded to the society's online survey between March and June.

The findings were part of a report entitled Bible Engagement in New Zealand: Survey of Attitudes and Behaviour.

They show that while 68 per cent of all New Zealanders owned a bible, just 23 per cent read it at least once a month.

A mere seven per cent read the book daily and nine per cent read it every week.

Mr Opie has been assigned the role of "reconnecting the post-modern generation" with the publication.

But on the Kapiti Coast there are no such fears, as members of the Anglican Church conduct a "Bibleathon" to celebrate the centenary of the parish.

The group started a cover-to-cover reading aloud of the Bible on Wednesday and are scheduled to finish this afternoon.

Just over two million people - about half the population - identified themselves as affiliated with a Christian religion in the 2006 census.

Bishop Richard Randerson said the fact 24 per cent of Christians read the text weekly or more was significant.

The retired dean of Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral said despite an overall decline in church attendance in the past 50 years, there was a much deeper sense of engagement with the Bible and the Christian faith.

"People belong to a church out of choice, and not from habit.

"Choice indicates a greater commitment."


Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

To give a general comment on the trend of technology VS reading. I and, i'm sure, many others experience this often. In Singapore, we travel by public transport alot (MRT, buses). So we took up activities while on the move.

For me, too many times I hav to choose whether to plug on the headset, listen to mp3 on my mobile phone or open a book and read. The former is just very tempting because:

1)Don't have to mentally active, especially after a day of work.

2)Won't strain eyes, which it will when we read.

Hence, I have to always push myself to read, though sometimes feeling rather lazy to do so.

Besides MP3 player, there are other prevalent technologies like gaming console PSP, portable DVD player, mini-digital video player, & etc that contest public-transport users away from books.

pearlie said...

I remember downloading an sms bible about 10 years ago but it didn't work. I also have the bible all in mp3 format but it uses so much memory it is sitting in the harddrive untouched. I'd much prefer the printed word, on paper or on screen. It is the heart, not the medium, you think?

Kar Yong said...

Hi Josh,

I think you really speak of the habits of the younger generation - not only in Singapore but also in KL I guess.

I guess with the technological culture being so prevalent in the society, it is hard to read large chucks of materials. I must admit that for many, it would take a lot to swallow reading the Gospel of Mark in one sitting.

I am one who read my Bible perhaps more frequently from my mobile and computer than the printed bible. I guess it's not really the medium that matters, but whether people would still want to read the Bible.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Pearlie,

Perhaps that speaks of your age....that you prefer the printed edition...hahaha...just being naughty.

I think you are right to say that the issue here is not the medium, but whether people would still want to read the bible, whether on the internet, in the computer, in the mobile, etc.

pearlie said...

Me old? Wuahhhhhhahah wuahhahahahah wuahhhhhhhhhh ... teach you not to mention age with women! =)

Anyway, I prefer the bible in the "printed" medium be it on paper, on computer screen or in my mobile phone, is because I do not want an additional "noise" to my reading i.e. the reader's interpretation of the mood and tone of the text.

For example, how would you read Jesus speaking to the Syrophoenician woman? With a smiling face like in a teasing manner to test her persistence, or sarcastically because she shouldn't be in his presence, or angrily because it is a preposterous thing to ask?

The mp3 bible I have is a straight read with no emotions. I am not sure how the Dramatic Reading series have this passage read. Have you encountered it?

Sze Zeng said...

Actually I'm guilty here.. besides reading the about 3 chapters from monday to friday (as required in my workplace!!), I barely open the Book and savor over it. Hence, couldn't comment much on those who seldom read the Bible lo...

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Pearlie,

I encounter those dramatic reading too. Was tempted to buy once but didn't have the push to get it.

pearlie said...

Hi Sze Zeng,
I have not really heard the dramatic ones - I kinda have a feeling I would cringe and therefore never thought of getting them! haha ... on the other hand, I was given a set of bible mp3 by a friend - it's online ... see if I can find it ... here you are.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Pearlie, sorry la about mentioning your age...but you already broadcast it in your blog about your age mah.. :-)

I would be keen to try the dramatic version.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Sze Zeng,

Now you got more reason to read the NT - in the original language!

pearlie said...

but you already broadcast it in your blog about your age mah
I am ok ... just kacauing you, BUT you must realise that age is mostly sensitive to women and even if they talk about their age, only they that can talk about, no one else.