Wading through the analog-digital margins

For most of my life, the last question I’ve asked myself before walking out of the house on Sunday mornings has been, “Do I have my Bible?”

And yet now, that question rarely crosses my mind.

Even though most of the communities I’ve been a part of have offered Bibles to use in the back of the pews, there was always something about having those “special” Bibles with me.

The cheap leather covers worn on the corners, the pictures I’d sketched while sitting lakeside during a beautiful sunrise, the notes I’d added in the margins — it’s what made my Bibles unique and special.

(c)Jonathan Blundell

But now, my Bible either remains in my bag or on my desk at home.

In an effort to minimize what I carry with me (you start looking to leave all “non-essentials” behind once you have twins), bringing a Bible with me on Sunday mornings was one of the first things to go.

So what’s taken it place? Have a turned to the pew Bible instead?

Not exactly.

(In fact I’m not even sure our community has Bibles in the back of our “pews”.)

Instead, I’ve gone all digital.

Digital Convenience

With my smart phone, I instantly have access to 30 or more translations in my pocket (all stored in the cloud) — more versions than I’d be able to fit on my bookshelf at home.

And along with these many different versions, I have access to a community of insights and the ability to highlight, bookmark and share my insights with the specific community, Twitter or Facebook (yes Vicky, I too Tweet during church).

I’ve also loved that it makes copying the text to my notepads far easier and more exact — so my notes and the text can be easily kept together.

It sounds like a win-win — especially for a techno geek like myself.

But in the midst of all theses advantages, I’m also haunted by the thought of “what am I missing out on?” and “what will my boys and future generations miss out on?”

Will my convenience factor outweigh the joy of the handwritten note?

The joys of the written word

When my sister passed away in 2005, one of the most treasured things my mom found was her Bible. It was full of notes, highlights, dreams and insights into how my sister wrestled and interacted with the text. It was like having a peak into my sister’s innermost thoughts.

And it’s analog — a typical print version with a typical leather binding. It’s not dependent upon any technology to view or hold. You can open up her Bible at any point, any hour and read the words with no need for special software or a connection to the Interwebs.

There’s no need to upgrade the software. There’s no need to worry that the next upgrade will wipe out the notes or highlights. It’s static and a hard copy that we’ll never have to worry about being lost because of a computer virus or faulty hardware.

It’s my sister, in her own thoughts and her own handwriting… like I said, it’s a family treasure.

And yet, even with this in the back of my head, any analog copy of my Bible has been pushed to the side in favor of digital convenience.

So I’m left wading in the margins of the digital/analog divide.

Will a standard come about soon enough that will make accessing these notes and thoughts far easier for years to come, or will our thoughts be locked away in proprietary technology that may some day become as accessible as tape drives or 1.44″ disks are today?

I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

But until then, I’m off to read my Bible on my new tablet and hope that someone can figure it all out for the rest of us.

About Jonathan D. Blundell

Jonathan Blundell is a husband, father, blogger, podcaster, author and media geek who is hoping to live a simple life and follow The Way. You can find him and links to his numerous projects at jdblundell.com or follow him on Twitter: @jdblundell or circle him on G+.