Christians across Britain are preparing to engage in a ‘mash-up’ online which combines C.S.Lewis, Rowan Williams, and the Gospel of Luke, as they get involved in the 2013 Big Read (Hashtag #BigRead13 online) for Lent – which starts this Wednesday 13th February.
The Big Read is designed to bring together Christians from across a range of churches to study the Bible together, drawing upon a particular text. For the past three years it has used the ‘Lent.. For Everyone’ series by the former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, going digital and national in 2011 – making full use of the social media that an increasing number use every day. In 2012, the site had nearly half-million pageviews, with around 19,000 visitors, with wide-ranging debate undertaken on social media.
This year the Big Read is taking a slightly different tack, focusing on Rowan Williams’, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, new book The Lion’s World, which explores C.S.Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, written in the 1950s. Dr Williams explores the moral landscape of all seven novels in the series, and the powerful spiritual insights they contain.
Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning for CODEC at the University of Durham, and Project Manager for The Big Bible Project said,
“Many people give up a range of foods for Lent, but The Big Bible Project encourages you to ‘feast’ upon the Bible. Free house group materials are structured around menus and include ideas for (conversation) starters, a main course, where you get into the ‘meat’ of the Bible, a ‘dessert’ of debate or reflection, and non-physical ‘after-dinner chocs’ to take away.”
The project encourages small groups to meet to study the Bible, but also to engage globally in ‘Bigger Bible conversations’ via social media, including blogs, tweets and Facebook, allowing conversation from a range of perspectives, and from across the church spectrum. Collaborating on the project this year are: Sheridan Voysey, Anna Blanch, Bishop Alan Wilson, Dr Steve Holmes and Justin Brierley.
Daily thoughts will be provided on the blog, including actions from @40Acts. Michael Ward, author of The Narnian Code has agreed to undertake a webinar. We are also pulling together related children’s resources for use in Easter week, and preparing an online service for Easter.
The Big Read is organised by the Big Bible Project, which is supported by The Jerusalm Trust, Premier Christian Media, The Methodist Church, The Bible Society, Seed Resources and SPCK. Big Bible is an online digital community that seeks to draw Christians from all churches and none into deeper engagement with the Bible through local reading groups and online conversations.
1. The Big Bible Project offers a space for people to increase both their Biblical literacy and their digital literacy, allowing open-ended discussion as to what it means to live Biblically/as a disciple in the digital age, and sharing practical advice as to how individuals and churches can become more digitally engaged. It grew out of ‘The Big Read’ which started in the North-East in 2010, drawing upon Tom Wright’s ‘For Everyone’ series.
2. The Big Bible Project is a part of CODEC (Christian Communication in a Digital Age), a research centre based at St John’s College in Durham – a new institution in a hundred year old College exploring the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture.
3. Rt Rev & Rt Hon Baron Dr Rowan Williams of Oystermouth has just stepped down as Archbishop of Canterbury, after ten years in the role, and has taken up a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The book jacket describes him as follows:
Born in 1950, Rowan Williams was educated in Swansea (Wales) and Cambridge. He studied for his theology doctorate in Oxford, after which he taught theology in a seminary near Leeds. From 1977 until 1986 he was engaged in academic and parish work in Cambridge, before returning to Oxford as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity. In 1990 he became a fellow of the British Academy.
In 1992 Professor Williams became Bishop of Monmouth, and in 1999 he was elected as Archbishop of Wales. He became Archbishop of Canterbury in late 2002 with ten years’ experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a primate in the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer and teacher as well as an accomplished poet and translator. His interests include music, fiction and languages. But as an archbishop his main activities have been pastoral – whether leading his own diocese of Canterbury and the Church of England, or guiding the Anglican Communion worldwide. At the end of 2012, after ten years as archbishop, he will step down and move to a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
4. Reflectors for The Big Read 2013
Sheridan Voysey (Author/Speaker); Anna Blanch (Academic Researcher); Alan Wilson (Bishop of Buckingham); Steve Holmes (Academic Researcher); Justin Brierley (Premier Radio).
5. Full list of supporters and sponsors:
The Jerusalem Trust, The Bible Society; The Methodist Church; Premier Christian Media; Seed Resources; SPCK; St John’s College, University of Durham.
Dr Bex Lewis
Research Fellow in Social Media & Online Learning
CODEC, St John’s College, University of Durham