Holy app!

A few weeks after I started this church-going experiment, I woke up in the middle of the night and grabbed the new “smartphone” off the bedside table. Since my husband had given it to me as a birthday present, I’d been carrying the phone everywhere, toying with it constantly. I was awed by its capacity. It seemed like a magic window onto the world, equipped with hundreds of possible applications (or “apps”) to aid in various aspects of life such as strengthening my memory with brain-challenging puzzles or encouraging exercise by counting all my steps.

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I like to explore what it can do.

In this particular instance, it was about 4 am and I was awake enough to have grabbed the phone off the bedside table, but dream images were fresh in my mind. I was staring into it when a note popped up: DOWNLOAD YOUR BIBLE APP!

I hadn’t touched anything to prompt this message; I didn’t know a Bible app existed.

It promised to be “easier and more powerful” with “performance enhancements” and “faster help.” I had this bleary moment where I thought my smartphone was actually a portal through which to interface with God. Through it, I could receive instant divine assistance. I had miraculously received this message, hadn’t I? It’s just the sort of immediate personal connection for which each new incarnation of Christianity seems to strive.

Then the fog lifted and I hit the download button. What did I have to lose? It was free.

This app has the full texts of about 20 translations of the Bible—and that’s just the English versions. It’s also got the Bible in every language imaginable, including Arabic and something called Malagasy, which Wikipedia explains is the national language of Madagascar. The best part is the “word search” feature. You go to the translation you want and type in a word or a phrase and it scans the entire Bible and then presents a list of every section where this word or phrase appears. The actual text is highlighted for quick reference.

It starts innocently enough: I pick an English translation at random and type in the words “mustard seed.” I’d first heard reference to the mustard seed at my week-long stay at the monastery. In a gospel reading, Jesus is explaining what the kingdom of heaven is like and he says, “…it is like a mustard seed that has been planted and develops into a bush.” He’s not talking about the seed alone, which contains all the information the plant will ever need; he’s talking about the realization of the seed’s dormant potential with the proper care and nourishment. I find it such a simple and powerful idea. I think he’s saying that the kingdom of heaven is life—the actual process of living and growing. My app tells me that Jesus uses this analogy six times throughout the gospels.

Then things take a darker turn: I search for the word “hell.”

16 thoughts on “Holy app!

  1. I’m not sure we should give the lowly mustard seed the credit we so often give it. After all the Jews were much more entranced by the cedars of Lebanon and would have expected Jesus’ parable to state something like, “The Kingdom of heaven is like the cedars of Lebanon”….It reminds me of another parable where Jesus likens the Kingdom to be filled with leavening when, in fact, it was unleavened bread that the Jews honored. Methinks there is another understanding to be worked through.

  2. Now you are on the right track…for your cell phone the Olive tree app, but for your tablet or laptop for serious study, also free (a donation is nice) get the e-sword download. You can build your own digital Bible and include a dozen versions, commentaries from scholars, dictionaries, maps, etc. When the screen is opened everything is at your fingertips with the experts comments on each verse and the KJV with Hebrew and Greek word will give you what the words meant. Modern versions often blur the meaning of the original words. If you have it on a tablet, you can listen to the service and there is a section to take notes. Where I used to need many volumes years ago and flipping pages back and forth. Everything is a key stroke away. Check up on how these pulpit pounders are parsing the Word of God. Keep the Reverends on the same page as the Deity intended! You go girl.

    • Love that alliteration: “how these pulpit pounders are parsing the Word of God……” But really, how does a person know what the Deity intended? It seems like every one of you has a different opinion on that subject. I just push all these crazy contradictions away and continue on with my spiritual journey….which has taken me outside the confines of Christianity to a place where I find a life that is full of Peace and Love…….and God, too, I might add. But whatever works for you…..

  3. must’ve been the Holy Spirit around some of the churches you’ve been in nudging your phone 🙂
    I think I’d caution about running to commentaries every time you have a question on something, though you might note it down somewhere. My experience is that, after awhile, people lose confidence in their own ability to understand simple words and build a dependence on the so-called experts. I know enough Greek and Hebrew to know that checking on them doesn’t solve all the problems and the experts sometimes have cemented their understanding into a system of theology. You may not consider yourself a true believer, Corinna, but I also know that God is able to feed a hungry heart, so keep seeking. God knows a bit more than the experts….so I’m told…..

  4. I just love “The Message Bible.” The Word in contemporary language. Also I highly reccomend”The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. I love your postings and look forward to each one. God Bless you. May you be filled with the “Fruit of the Spirit” which is love, joy, peace, paitence, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.

  5. LOL! HELL, an interesting topic to end your essay upon. hell on wheels, hell’s angels, hell’s frozen over… As one’s attention goes, so goes his soul. Ops, the only way is up! elevator, airplane, rocket, ascension! Yea!

  6. Thanks for the info, James. I’m going to try to find that download. It would be nice sometimes to avoid the page flipping (although as a bibliophile, I kind of like me my books :)).

    And Walt, I know what you are saying. Sometimes, when I have studied and researched and read and tried to figure out and tried to understand and I realize that I am more hopelessly confused than when I started, I have to just stop and say “I’m five years old and this is what I understand: Jesus loves me.” We’ve mentioned this before in other posts (Dave comes to mind) and some may call it a cop out, but I call it a rest stop for my brain in the intensity that happens when you research and study something as rich as the Bible.

    Hell. Oh my! I can tell this is going to be interesting. 🙂

  7. Yea, reading the Bible! Christianity is centered in the Word. When the Reformers researched the Bible the whole thing (Christianity) came alive for them. We can study both on our own and through those who have made it their profession to study the Bible. God speaks through both. One thing that will help when we read a passage is to notice its context by reading what is immediately before and after it. The Holy Spirit will speak to you as you read. This is ancient belief. People in 1100 AD practiced listening to it. It’s call Lectio Divina. For instance in the mustard seed you noticed the Kingdom of heaven is life. It is simple, yet powerful; living and growing. Then the next thing you looked up was hell – there’s a contrast! What do you suppose God was saying? God is always incredibly interesting.

    • Mark, your blog was very interesting and certainly mirrored and confirmed somethings that I have thought about as an educator. YOUR filter is through the arena of trying to bring people into a deeper understanding of Christianity, and I believe that there is certainly going to be a problem there in that so many people—especially young people–do not seem to know how to communicate/navigate in any depth. I think that this is a much broader issue. This lack of ability to experience life….experience relationships!—with any depth is very troubling. It seems to me that marriages and family life will also suffer from this shallow way of communicating. And I saw recently where a tech company has forbidden their employees to “do business” on their I-Pads, I-phones, e-mail, etc. They have to talk face to face. Shallow communication with your friends, family, business associates, Church, your God…. or your self, is not a good thing.

      I personally value depth….in almost every arena….so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. This ability to think/feel deeply has allowed me to take my own spiritual journey and to stay centered in this frenetic life. I worry that we will not be able to pull people back away from practicing and valuing speed and surface living.

      One of the things I value most about Corinna’s blog and the replies is the thoughtful nature of the replies. No quick answers here!
      Thanks to each of you for your willingness to share and to let yourself new vulnerable. Merrill

  8. ” I worry that we will not be able to pull people back away from practicing and valuing speed and surface living” ~ Merrill
    I also worry about this. I have tried intentionally to stay away from all the tech I can – about all I can handle is reading facebook once in a while, and I find myself hoping that the people who post trivialities such as “I had oatmeal for breakfast” are finding other ways to be deep and connected with others. I wonder what the sheer speed of everything is doing to our ability to suffer delays? Will the virtue/fruit of the spirit of Patience become extinct? What is our access to so much information doing to our souls?

    • I hear you and Merrill but I don’t think I’m quite as pessimistic about the tech. world, any more than those who began to use the telephone and no longer had to go and see the person or agency they wanted to contact, or when movies and subsequently television took us away from good theatre. The world changes every so many years and we find ourselves confronted with new ways of doing things. Perhaps this lack of depth that you are both opining will be confronted in a similar way to what Corrinna is doing: A None who wants to see if there’s more and can she get some. A new world and a new age is upon us in which technology and information overload is being exploited. I think it drives some of us to make more personal decisions about boundaries: How far will I go with the technical stuff. So many choices. Eventually we settle in to what seems good and right to us and in the words of the old song, “Let the rest of the world go by.” T.V. news and internet news often just lets us see the young people who are problematic with life because of the lack of depth in their lives but there are just as many stories of young people with great depth serving their country as well as inventing and carrying the entrepeneurial spirit. I think of it as our being in the midst of the evolutionary process. We’ve become comfortable with our past and find integration with the present and future a challenge. Along with these changes I see the best hope for increasing depth coming from the evolution of new ways to discover and apply a sense of spirituality for one’s self. Old religious ways are becoming more and more dysfunctional as our scientific world cries out for less myth while understanding things with a deeper and more personal sense of spirituality with greater inclusivity.

      • Frank, as always, you have brought your optimism into play! I am not actually pessimistic; I would say I am more concerned. The world of today is greatly shaped by technology, and that is not a bad thing.It has many positive impacts, for sure. What I am concerned about are things like tweets and Facebook where you can be in contact with 100’s of people and not have anyone to go to coffee with where you can have a real conversation….if you want one!

        But your last sentences were hopeful in my way of thinking. Where we look forward to a time when myths are less important than understanding the world with a deeper understanding of our own spirituality in a place of inclusion and compassion. A place where we can all continue to grow! That’s what I am talking about.

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