5 Things I Learned from Reading the Newspaper

Back in June, I decided to try a little experiment in how I receive and read the news. My goal was to read news exclusively through a newspaper every day for two weeks. That meant no web news, no NPR in the car, and no TV (including TMZ, which is normally a rich source of reflection for me).

There is a lot of discussion about the slow extinction of the the newspaper and standards of journalism, but that wasn’t really my interest. I didn’t grow up reading newspapers, and I wanted to know how the experience of reading a paper at a fixed time every day compared to checking an RSS feed reader for blogs several times throughout the day. Here’s what I found:

1. Newspapers Are Expensive

On the first day of my experiment, I managed to demonstrate how naive I was about the world of newspapers. I was shocked to see to see that the Dallas Morning News weekday edition is $1.00 and the New York Times is $2.00. That’s more than a Venti coffee!

Interestingly, that expense played into how I interacted with the news. I found that the cost motivated me to really explore the paper and finish articles in contrast to web news which I often stop reading after the first paragraph.

Continue reading 5 Things I Learned from Reading the Newspaper

Stop Bringing Your Bible to Church! (and don’t look at the screen either)

This post is the first in a series of “Media Ecology Experiments” which is about using media and technology in a different way to help understand how it affects us and our faith.
The Flower Fades and so Does the Word of God
A few months ago, I found myself in church without a Bible. In the rush to get the family out the door, I didn’t want to make us any later by hunting for my Bible – plus our church gave us a handout with the sermon passage anyway. This backfired when our church decided to stop printing the handouts to save money in the economic downturn. Thankfully, they still put the Bible text on screen whenever the pastor referred to it.
Sadly, I noticed that when the words were on screen my eyes just bounced from word to word acknowledging that the words the pastor spoke matched the words on screen. When the words faded from the screen, they faded from my mind as well. I would try to remember, but my mind was so used to having the text available, it just refused to memorize it. I tried bringing my Bible again, but the same thing happened. My eyes would flit about the page, but the words would not penetrate my mind, much less my heart.
An Experiment That Was Really an Exercise
So I decided to do an experiment. I intentionally left my Bible at home and when the pastor began to read from the Scripture, I would – get this – close my eyes and just listen. I was joining my ancient Christian brothers who, without printed Bibles and projectors, only accessed the precious Words of God through their ears.
Without printed words to guide me, I felt a bit helpless at first, like a kid riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. But after a few tries, my mind seemed to put back online a tool it hadn’t used since I was a kid – my imagination.
The picture was a bit dim at first, but the harder I worked the more brilliant and lifelike it became. I started to picture a house with people eating inside. The house’s owner was a man named Simon the Leper. Jesus and the disciples were there fellowshipping together. But then, in came Mary with her alabaster jar. What a tense and powerful scene!
Kill the Easy Button
As a web developer my job is to make a website so clear that people don’t have to think to use it. The problem is that much of our lives are spent using devices that make things so easy, we begin to atrophy.
We see this clearly with our bodies. Fast food and desk jobs make us fat. So we invent and use machines that are the opposite of easy (weight machines, treadmills, etc.) in order to exercise and rebuild our bodies.
However, it’s harder for us to see how “easy buttons” affect our mind and soul. That’s why I recommend that we occasionally try using our technology in different ways to see how it affects us. Today someone might see me at church without a Bible and think that I don’t care about the Scriptures. But in fact, the reason I don’t always have my printed Bible is that I care so deeply about God’s word that I don’t want it to remain on the page or on the screen. I want it to penetrate so deeply into my mind that it changes me from the inside out.
If you try it this weekend please share your experience.

This post is the first in a series of “Media Ecology Experiments” which is about using media and technology in a different way to help understand how it affects us and our faith.

The Flower Fades and so Does the Word of God

russian bible projectedA few months ago, I found myself in church without a Bible. In the rush to get the family out the door, I didn’t want to make us any later by hunting for my Bible – plus our church gave us handouts with the sermon passage anyway.

This backfired when our church decided to save money and stop printing the handouts. Thankfully, they still put the Bible text on screen whenever the pastor referred to it.

Sadly, I noticed that when the words were on screen my eyes just bounced from word to word acknowledging that the words the pastor spoke matched the words on screen. When the words faded from the screen, they faded from my mind as well. I would try to remember, but my mind was so used to having the text available, it just refused to memorize it. I tried bringing my Bible again, but the same thing happened. My eyes would flit about the page, but the words would not penetrate my mind, much less my heart. Continue reading Stop Bringing Your Bible to Church! (and don’t look at the screen either)