For more than a year I've had on my iPad the Bible app called YouVersion.
I like it for many reasons, including the fact that it offers 39 different English translations. In fact, I like so much that I recently put the app on my allegedly smart phone and my PC. The app, by the way, is free.
Recently one of the "Sightings" columns from the Martin E. Marty Center at the University of Chicago focused on this app in its discussion of digitized bibles.
As the piece reports, "YouVersion is revolutionizing the accessibility and distribution of the biblical text, putting over 600 versions in over 400 languages right at our fingertips."
Well, all those other languages may be useful to someone, but except for a bit of French and Hindi, I'm pretty well stuck with English.
As the "Sightings" piece notes, the success of the app isn't due to evangelical zeal but, rather, to smart marketing and knowing the audience: "YouVersion collects vast amounts of behavioral data from its users and, in turn, uses this information to build customer loyalty. IP addresses, GPS locations, habits and preferences enable YouVersion to provide a 'tailored experience' to the sacred text."
I don't want to digitize religion completely. That would remove from it the important mystery it inevitably contains. But what if the message about that mystery -- and everything else religious -- doesn't get out and doesn't have a chance to transform lives?
I think religion -- and even individual congregations -- can learn from YouVersion that we must pay close attention to the wants and needs of those outside our traditions if we hope to invite them to explore what being part of our tradition would mean.
This doesn't have to mean all kinds of digital phishing, so to speak, so we become, in old Christian terms, phishers of men. But it does mean using today's tools to bring good news to today's people.
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LET'S GO SHOPPING WITH THE POPE
And for all of you who are worn out from shopping on Black Friday (having expressed gratitude for all you have the day before, Thanksgiving), Pope Francis wants you to know that trickle-down economics doesn't work and never has. Hey, why is this guy stick his nose into the business of business? Shouldn't he stick to religion? Ah, well, there is no subject that religion does not touch, including conspicuous consumption, as it used to be called.