Monday, 14 January 2008

Breakdown in faith transmission while supermarkets sell the Bible

In the international setting of Geneva and in ministry in Reformed congregations, I am sometimes struck by how illiterate about the Bible many "educated" westerners have become and how well-versed in the wealth of Bible stories many Christians from the global South are. My friend Janet Lees, a speech therapist and theologian, in her work in inner-city Sheffield also noticed that for many Christians the "remembered Bible" which people carry within them needs to be valued and unlocked to let the stories speak and build people up. Maybe in our multimedia, remote control society valuing oral and inner versions of the Bible rather than concentrating always on the written text is a good initial way forwards.
So I was fascinated to read on Tom Heneghan's blog that a new translation of the Bible into French is selling like hot cakes in supermarkets and large book chains. Are people just buying it as a cheap way to make their bookshelves look good? How many of them will actually get read?
Meanwhile both Protestant and Catholic churches in France talk about the "crise de la transmission" - the breakdown in communicating the faith from one generation to another. I wonder whether podcasts of the Bible would sell out so quickly ... of course they don't look quite so good on your bookshelves and probably cost rather more to produce than printing books. But creativity has to be the way forwards to give communication and transmission a chance.
I was intrigued at a meeting between church communicators in Sibiu earlier this year by a young Dutch journalist who talked about how she had organised public readings of a new translation of the Bible into Dutch, including getting prostitutes to read the story of Rahab for instance.
Anyway the Bible certainly seems to be in the news, ENI had a story last week about the Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the American Bible Society providing Bibles to Greece to replace the many thousands that were destroyed in the terrible fires over the summer. In December CWM reported that 50 million new Bibles are being printed by Amity press in China.