Studies show that those who were presented with electronic hypertext documents retained and understood less than those presented with the same documents in print form. The more the links, the less the comprehension. The medium obscured the message.
This shouldn't be a surprise; the medium as the message was pointed out a long time ago by Neil Postman in Entertaining Ourselves to Death.
Charles Halton has taken up blogging again. One of his recent posts tackles the hazards of interpreting—get ready for it—maps! After showing a map from the 14th century, he asks:
So, how do we assess this map? Is it worthless because it does not accurately represent the geography of the world?
When we interpret and assess mappae mundi we need to understand their genre which includes their intended purpose. The purpose of these maps was not to guide travelers, in fact, when sailors started using maps as aids for navigation maps changed dramatically (it was at this point that maps changed their orientation to the North, represented geographic features more accurately, etc.). Instead, these maps were intended to convey theological messages–the relationship between earth and paradise, the effects of the Fall and the exiles to the East, the theological importance of Jerusalem, etc. If we judged a mappa mundi on the basis of how accurately it represented the actual geography of the world we would be missing its entire point, the reason why it was made in the first place. It is like this with biblical genres. Before we interpret a text, any text for that matter, we need to understand its genre and concomitantly the reading expectations that we should bring to it.
Read the whole thing. He even includes a 20th century example. Good stuff to remember when you are reading an ancient text...
Over at Alan Knox's blog, he has a nice post about going to church:
So, Sunday morning, he found himself pulling his sedan into the parking lot. The attendants flagged him through the parking lot and into a space. The man at the door smiled and handed him a folded piece of paper. As he was going to say something to the man, the man turned toward the family behind him to hand them some folded pieces of paper.
As he paused inside the door, he marveled at the hive of activity that he found. The family behind him pushed past and found a pew. He sat beside them by the aisle. The husband of the family nodded, then turned toward his folded piece of paper. So, he looked at his paper, too. At the top of the paper were the words, “The Blessing of God.”
Good. He needed a blessing...
Then, everyone was leaving. He turned to the husband of the family. The husband shook his hand, and said, “It’s great to meet you.” As he was preparing to ask about being blessed by God, the family made their way past him and out the door. He stood there for a moment and a few people nodded at him. One man shook his hand.
Slowly he made his way back out the door and to his car. He drove back home. He did everything they asked. He went to church. He sang the songs. He gave his money. He listened to the speech. He said the prayer. Was he blessed?
He cried himself to sleep that night in his empty bed.
The next morning, the sign in front of the church building read, “Come here for a new life.” He wondered if that was a lie too.
Sad, isn't it? I guess the reason it is so sad is because it rings too true. I'm not throwing stones; I've been guilty, too. But, God didn't call us to bring people to a building; he called us to bring people to himself. That may or may not happen in a building; the location is irrelevant. The life-changing encounter with God is what matters—and the following interaction with believers on a daily basis...