Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Audio Bible & the Hacks at Newsweek

I have the entire New Testament on my iPod (among other things). I can, for example, listen to Paul’s entire first letter to the Corinthians in the time it takes me to get to and from work. I have found that doing this, verses reading one or two chapters a day, gives me the added benefit of picking up on the letter’s message as a whole, and not just that of a chapter’s. Seeing how each chapter’s theme, tone, and content fits in with that of the letter as a whole is so helpful in understanding what’s being said.

In the August 6th edition of Newsweek, there is a somewhat interesting article on the intersecting popularity of the iPod and the Bible. While the topic itself is worth discussing, the journalism Newsweek "reporter" Tony Dokoupil produced leaves a little to be desired. It wasn't enough to look objectively at the topic; he needed to "spice" it up with odd comparisons and off-the-wall quotes from marginal sources.

The article starts with a clunky and forced comparison between audio files and holy water, and fiber-optic cables with a sacrarium. Of course the term "Roman Catholics" is used to try and offer some sort of credibility.
“The convenience of these modern miracles is obvious, but they raise a thorny question: now that the holy texts are digital, portable and deletable, how should we treat them? It seems blasphemous to shuffle God into electronic company with Madonna and the Grateful Dead, and later destroy his name as casually as "Control-Delete." Even downloading the Word through the same fiber-optic cables as the latest Korn album sounds like a bad idea, given that Roman Catholics dispose of holy water through special pipes to keep it from touching sewage.”
Man, that’s such a stupid paragraph. But I digress. Anyway, so next the article looks to Catholics, Jews, and Protestants for their take on the Word of God made digital phenomena. And of course, the Catholic position is given by the wackiest Catholic clergymen they can find, a Jesuit no less.

"If someone uses their iPod exclusively for sacred purposes," says Justin Daffron, a Jesuit priest at Chicago's Loyola University, "then it's a sacramental object that needs to be buried or burned when it wears out." But feel free to delete digitized Scripture on a daily basis. "The file itself is just a file," adds Daffron, who erases the readings he receives on his multi-use BlackBerry guilt-free.
Huh? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought for something to be a sacramental it had to be blessed by a priest? And since when did a BlackBerry fit neatly in to a vow of poverty?

Jews also believe that the Bible prohibits destroying the readable name of God, although it's not that simple in an electronic world. "It depends on whether the digital grooves or tiny dots that the computer translates into Torah can be considered letters," says Joel Roth, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary. "If you say they aren't, then what about the Old Testament in Braille?"
What? Did Joel Roth, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, refer to the Jewish Bible as the “Old Testament”. Hmm… Prof Roth’s authority in the area of the Torah may be a little shaky.


Protestant evangelicals see e-Bibles as mere vessels for God rather than holy objects—kind of like the replicants in "Blade Runner" were less human than their human originals. "There's not the same sense of investing the object with sanctity," says Lauren Winner, an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School. "Evangelicals will use whatever helps squeeze religion into the cracks of modern life."

Duke University? Of all the protestant institutions out there, they picked a Methodist school to speak about the Bible? I apologize to all the Methodist readers we have, but having the Methodists speak for the protestants in this area is a little like Rudy Giuliani speaking for the Republicans on Pro-Life issues.

Ah yes, leave it to Newsweek to generate a story where there really never was one. But all ridiculous hack journalism aside, if you do have the ability to pick up the Bible on CD and would use it, think about it. But here is the question I’m interested in hearing responses to.

Below are two versions of an audio Bible, one is dramatized, the other is not. If you were going to buy one, which would it be?




Would it matter if one was a Catholic version of the Bible and one was a Protestant version?


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Oh, number 2 for sure. I already have enough "drama" in my life. And also, the Bible is full of a lot of drama just in the straight reading of the Words! Theatrics have their place, just not in my ears while I'm jogging.

Where did you get your Bible (what version) audio files? My cd/rom doesn't work on my computer so I would need to get it for free from the computer or someone else's mp3.

Anonymous said...

Version 2.

I would go with a Catholic version first, I suppose, although I would probably avoid a "dramatic" Catholic version....

MrsMom said...

I actually like number 1 better. It is easier for me to listen to. I like the change in voices, it makes it more real for me.