Friday, October 10, 2014

Smart Spirituality

This is the age of Smart Phones. Smart phones can do almost everything that a personal computer can do and is increasingly replacing them. Studies show that the sale of laptops have gone down and that of smart phones have gone up considerably.
Smart phones are now used for internet browsing, sending and receiving emails, banking, ticket bookings, games, social networking, and all that you can imagine are possible with your hand-held phone. It is even replacing the TV and radio sets. Apps on smart phones can help us keep our body slim and mind sharp. The smart phones are only going to get smarter as days go by.
Integrating technology and spirituality is very important. This is not new. The sages who recorded the scriptures moved from clay tablets to stone tablets to leather scrolls to papyri. Then came Gutenberg with the movable types. Thus the bibles until then found only in the churches and monasteries reached every home. Then as book production became easier and cheaper most Christians have at least one bible in their own languages. Then it was the days of Bible software on computers. Some of them had features that no user had any use of! Some experts say that no user knows or has any use of 80% of the features a software offers.
At each turn of technological development spirituality benefited positively. Reformation would not have happened the way it happened if there was no printing press and communication. Revival preachers have taken advantage of the newspapers, radio, TV and Internet. This marriage between technology and spirituality is certainly from God. But we need to remind ourselves that the Devil is also keen on using it.
Now the emerging trend being that of smart phones how smart can Christian spirituality get? I have some suggestions from own experience. You may have more and I will appreciate if you could share it with all of us.
I use a Bible software on my Android Tab which has practically replaced my print bible. Print Bibles are huge and heavy. Highlighting verses see through to the reverse of the page. There is a limit to what you can note on the margins. Moreover, what would you do with a Bible that you used for so long and love so much with all your notes in it. You feel it is too sacred and precious to throw in to the trash bin like other used books or old newspaper.
I use Olive Tree Bible Software on my Tab. I can have multiple versions, highlight, make study notes and reflections, look up commentaries and dictionaries side by side. Nothing will be lost since everything is synced between my Tab and the cloud service the software company offers. I have routed my Tab many times but nothing is so far lost. Even I lose my Tab or have to buy a new one all my data will be secure.
My smart tablet has helped me not only study and meditate the Word but is also helps me in my research and writing. I carry a huge library on my Tab. Mine is a very basic machine with only 16 GB of memory and screen size of 10.1. I have the entire collection of Early Church Fathers besides many other huge collections on it. If I stack the printed volumes of Early Church Fathers one on the other it will touch the ceiling of my room!
Then I have Kindle on my Tab as well as Play books and other eBook readers. I used to carry one or two books on my travels. Then on the way or at the destination I had after thoughts on the selection that I made when packing. That is no more a problem now, I have the entire library with me accessible from anywhere.
On my quite strolls around the campus I feel God prompting me to think. I have thoughts that come to me in my quite contemplations. Then if I can’t find a piece of paper and pen and jot them down immediately they will be lost for ever. However, my smart phone with Evernote has never disappointed me. I can jot it down on Evernote (like the seed though of this write-up) even if I am in a desert with no internet connection. Then when I get home or the data connection is restored it has already synced with my other devices—laptop or the Tab. Sometimes, I use it for noting down prayer points, sermon ideas, announcements in the church for the next Sunday.
Evernote Hello which integrates with Evernote has been helpful in my pastoral work a lot. This helps me keep a record of my meetings with people, notes on the meetings etc. Before the next meeting I can go through the notes and have a follow up.
I find Remember Me a very useful tool. This is an app that helps you memorize the scripture. Olive Tree has bible reading plans and I follow one. Then when I come across a verse that I would like to cherish I can highlight it or make a note on it. However, Remember Me allows me to keep this verse along with other verses to memorize it. It will play the verses added to it audibly so that I can just hear my favourite verses read to me. I remember one of my family members when she was old and eye sight being poor making us the younger ones read the Bible to her. Now, I can have that privilege while I am comparatively younger and with no grandchildren around.
My smart phones help me keep my prayer journal, spiritual journal wherever, I go.
As a pastor I find it extremely useful to stay in touch with my congregation throughout the week. Most of my congregation members are on WhatsApp. So we have a group for the church. We send prayer requests, birthday wishes, songs and videos over WhatsApp. It helps the church stay connected throughout the week.
So I developed a App for my church. We use the App more than the church website now— This android app called COREPUNE has the schedules, blogs, directions, and a whole lot.
I remember an ad in the early ninetees that the Indian High Commission put out. It said, ‘We missed the industrial revolution, but we are not going to miss the IT revolution.’ That resolve came true. The first Indian company to be listed on NASDAQ was an IT company called Infosys! I think a similar slogan is now in the air. ‘This is the era of Smart Phone revolution, the Church should not miss it.’

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