Thursday, October 2, 2014

An electronic missal?

From Concordia Seminary, St. Louis:

In chapel this week—in mid-August, chapel is held in the undercroft because the only students on campus are those finishing Summer Greek—the liturgist did something I have not seen heretofore: he led the liturgy from an electronic “tablet.” What, as someone has said, does this mean? (emphasis added)

It is almost routine to find congregations without hymnals, whether they project on the screen or print everything out on paper.  It is less common to find the use of an electronic missal by those who lead the liturgy.  It is certainly the direction of the future.  I am not without some sadness here.

I have complained before that the altar book of LSB is too dang thick and that it was foolishness to let this slip by in the form it is.  Surely it would not have been that difficult or costly to increase the size of the page and make the book thinner as well as larger to encompass all the material in the altar book.  I have also complained that our altar books and lectionaries do not have covers suitable for the content and holy purpose of these books.  But these are other issues.  While I know the shortcomings of the books themselves, the shift to an electronic format is not a good thing.

While ease of use may be a benefit for an electronic form of the altar book and lectionary, it is not necessarily all that much easier.  For one thing, it is not as easy to keep multiple bookmarks and to turn from page to page as is necessary.  Second, with any electronic device, user errors, glitches, and power issues are more likely to happen than not.  Finally, there is something lost when the permanence of a book is replaced with a tablet that implies something temporary.  A congregation will likely purchase only one set of lectionary and altar books in the life of the hymnal.  There is something symbolically important about the use of that book over the years as well as the carrying of these books in the liturgy.

Technology is not always an advance.  In this case, just because we can is not a good enough reason to put aside the printed altar book and lectionaries and replace them with an electronic version.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Technology is not always an advance.  In this case, just because we can is not a good enough reason to put aside the printed altar book and lectionaries and replace them with an electronic version." AMEN!

Anonymous said...

The Altar Book is way too huge and cumbersome, indeed. We need a slimmed down version, for sure. CPH really goofed when they didn't field test the Altar Book.

Anonymous said...

"...there is something lost when the permanence of a book is replaced with a tablet that implies something temporary."

They are also more costly to maintain. Does anyone realistically think that Apple (iPad) or Amazon (Kindle) would be content for the end user to continue to use the same hardware and software forever? Planned obsolescence.....

I have seen cogent arguments against buying the latest edition of a high school Math or English textbook. Math has not changed in the last 500 years. English literature has also not changed much since 1900. Why do we need a newer edition?

Newer editions would benefit the publisher and no one else. The publisher can save on print, storage and distribution costs by issuing an electronic edition.

One problem with electronic editions is that forced upgrades may rewrite or revoke content from previous editions. It is also legally impossible to lend or give an eBook to someone else. If you bought it, it is yours forever. Not so with paper books..........

Anonymous said...

It is also a lot harder for a tyrannical government to confiscate a paper book as opposed to an electronic one. A government can do a remote wipe of your device and/or block future access to banned content. There is democracy in paper!

Janis Williams said...

At least it wasn't an iPhone....

A gold encrusted iPad?????

Yes, technology can become technoply. Why is it more cumbersome to lug an LSB to Divine Service than a laptop or iPad? Are the words (or The Word) different in electronic format? It's not like you need anything besides LSB.... of course, for those bored with the sermon, they can text, IM, play games, or watch movies. Or maybe even listen to another sermon, say, from Joel Osteen?

Anonymous said...

Is this the next step? Be careful what you wish for, you LCMS sacramental entrepreneurs!


http://www.appeal-democrat.com/church-encourages-text-messaging-during-sermons/article_55b2c082-f7e4-5ac3-92ff-a1e7b658d4c8.html?mode=jqm

Jason Kiefer said...

For some who want to get out ahead of the bandwagon... Not everyone has or can afford an iPad or Kindle. How much of a problem would that create? Reminds me of the (anecdotal) CoWo. Are we going to again cater to a potentially even younger crowd, once again neglecting older members? Are we going to basically replace our members instead of growing the church? Philosophically we have been down this road before, without resounding success.

Jim Davis said...

Jason:
Our congregation has Bibles in the pew racks, quick reference to electronic versions of the Bible passages, and a display up front on a screen of the Bible passages. Devices for hearing impaired individuals are available; but not the sign language interpreter.
Visitors and members are not neglected,
they are helped in a format best suited to the individual.

Anonymous said...

Jason wrote: "Are we going to again cater to a potentially even younger crowd, once again neglecting older members? Are we going to basically replace our members instead of growing the church?:

Of course. It was a calculated move. The planners in the various synod and district offices thought this through already. A predetermined number of membership losses is acceptable in order to facilitate the conversion of the entire LCMS to the Rick Warren way of doing Church. The old people will die off soon enough, and some younger, disillusioned families will voluntarily leave. No worries, as these membership losses will be made up by younger people who have never seen a catechism nor a hymnal. Incoming LCMS members will not complain about the lack of Lutheran theology if they were never exposed to it in the first place!

Mission accomplished.

Jason Kiefer said...

to Anonymous... Oh, yes, I know this all too well. There are a plethora of reasons, most interconnected, of why I am at a different congregation now than I was five years ago.

"I fought the Law and the Law won..."

I could go on so much I would need my own blog. But I am grateful for some of the sites now in existence. Pr. Peters mentioned in his newest one that he seems to complain a lot. Keep on complaining! Be Bereans, always testing the messages against The Message: the Word of God.

Padre Dave Poedel said...

Larry:

I lament the fact that our Lectionary Series A, B, and C are not a standard size that we could purchase one of the beautiful Lectionary coverings constructed of metal, with etching or other symbols like the Roman Catholics use. IT would lend dignity, especially in a Gospel Procession.

Josh Schroeder said...

Um, isn't it called an Altar Book because it stays on the altar?

Rev. Kevin Vogts said...

Several years ago a member attended a wedding at a church of another denomination. She thought the face of elderly minister performing the ceremony had a beautiful, angelic glow—until she realized he was reading from an iPad!

Christopher D. Hall said...

Fr. Poedel, we actually have a plated cover for our lectionary book (One Year) at Grace, Tulsa. It is beautiful and we use it every Sunday, reading the Gospel from it at the horn, and also in processions on Major Feasts. Not sure if it was "off the rack" or custom, but if you're interested, email me at:
srpastor AT glctulsa DOT com.

Pr. Christopher Hall