The influence of technology on religion has long been a subject of discourse on this blog and it is definitely an issue that will continue to generate a lot of controversies.
You can read my earlier posts on the influence of technology on religion here.
Apart from the “End of the World” proponents who are very convinced about the very negative role technology would play in the end times, even those who are less believing would have to admit that there is an increasing influence technology is having on World religions.
And with the increasing affordability of tablets and higher end smartphones, it is now very common place to see a lot of Nigerians toting at least one of these mobile devices at anytime.
For a while now, i have paid very little attention to this new age phenomenon. However, my visit to the church last Sunday created a reawakening. It was a bit of a shock to me when it was time for Bible reading and about one-third of the congregation flashed out their tablets and fancy smartphones. Even the presiding Pastor had to comment about this. This is indeed the new face of churches in Nigeria, especially for the churches that cater for the middle and high income earners in the Lekki axis of Lagos, Nigeria.
Even the low income earners have refused to be left behind, thanks to the cheap android knock off tablets that have flooded the country from China. It will indeed be research-worthy to compile the number of these devices now available in Nigeria.
The appropriateness of these devices in the church is still generating a lot of divergent views, even among the church leaders. While some Nigerian Pastors welcome this development as a portrayal of prosperity among its parishioners, however in the world over, some religious leaders worry that the inherently isolating and attention-diverting nature of smart phones has created a generation of worshippers unable to fully engage with the sublimation of self and quiet meditation that underlie both the Eastern and Western religious traditions.
The fact can not be ruled out that for the church to shore up shrinking congregations with new devotees, those younger worshipers expect activities to include smart phone and tablet use. Device multitasking has become such a pervasive part of their life that quiet, paper-text based religious ceremonies seem even stranger and more off-putting.
However, some religious leaders who have already tried to conduct services over a mobile device to a geographically scattered audience, and those who have tried to integrate smart phones into a physically unified congregation, say they have noticed a significant difference in how worshippers process the experience. Unfortunately, they have found that most people tend to disengage from the experience of communal worship with this mode.
I no longer read a bible from a printed paper based format and i honestly do not know where i have placed mine. Reading my bible from mobiles is a habit that i took on right from the days of my trusty Nokia 3650 back in the mid 2000s. For me, though, I must admit that there is indeed something about digital bibles that does not give you the same experience that you get from the paper based ones but the convenience and the excitement the digital ones give you has made this form of bible the only option for me and many out there.