In the early 16th century, Martin Luther, assisted by enterprising printers unhandicapped by copyright laws, swamped the market with five pamphlets for every one put out by his Catholic opponents. Other Protestant writers poured out their own flood of sermons, treatises, polemics and devotional writings. For more than three decades Protestants dominated the recently invented printing press.
The emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web as a source of information, a venue for publishing, and a forum for dialogue now defines libraries nearly as much as the more familiar milieu of printed texts. The technological dimensions of this shift are less intriguing than the cultural ones. And from where I sit, the developments are a decidedly mixed blessing.
The rise of the Internet’s World Wide Web in the mid-1990s launched an unlikely hero into the media spotlight: Johann Gutenberg, the 15th-century inventor of movable printing type and technological forefather of the vernacular Bible. Reporters, Internet columnists and even some scholars began parading Gutenberg before the public as a kind of poster child for the digital revolution.
We asked some expert observers of the religion scene how they are navigating the new media. What do they read, watch and listen to? How have their reading, listening and viewing habits changed over the past decade?Here's Mark Silk: "I’ve always been a news junkie. I still take two dead-tree newspapers—the New York Times and the Hartford Courant. I look at the Washington Post every morning, and I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered while driving to and from work. At work, I’m in thrall to the continuous news cycle. I check the AP wire on Yahoo as soon as I sit down at my desk, and then scan the general-interest blogs and blogzines—the Daily Dish, Politico, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast."
Like most pastors, I claim that the face-to-face meeting is the best way to do the ministry of the church; also like most pastors, I spend an enormous amount of time reading and composing e-mails. I am driven not so much by my own schedule or preferences as by those of my church members. Many of them use e-mail all day long and expect the church to do the same. If I want to keep up, I have to keep typing.
"Oreon told me she’s praying for you,” my husband, Gary, said in between bites. We were having dinner one night when I was having a particularly stressful time at work. Gary is a pastor at a downtown Chicago church, and Oreon is one of the staff members there. “Why is Oreon praying for me?” I asked. I hadn’t had more than a passing hello with Oreon in weeks. “She saw your Facebook status message,” he said.