TO KNOW WHAT FRUSTRATES ME as a Christian author, picture the angel Gabriel with an iPhone. He’s flying around inside a church that hasn’t been built yet, videotaping the fly-through with his phone.
Afterward, he posts the video in hi-def on Vimeo.
Think of this as an updated version of Ezekiel’s vision of the temple he said the Jews would one day rebuild in Jerusalem.
This actually happened to me a few days ago. Well, everything except the part about Gabriel.
Our church is in a “capital campaign” to raise money for a new and improved sanctuary that, from the outside, looks like a UFO. Being a Star Trek fan, I’m game. As long as there’s no transporter in there. I don’t want beamed up just yet.
To present the building plans to church members, some of whom are not Star Trek fans, the architects created a fly-through of the sacred space—inside and out.
I was wowed.
Technology like that is what frustrates me. Specifically, my lack of access to it.
With words on a flat page, I can describe Ezekiel’s vision of the Jerusalem temple.
With one picture on a flat page, I can add a single glimpse of it. But only one; space is tight in a book about the entire Bible.
Double doggone it, if my hometown church can produce a hi-def video of a church that hasn’t been built yet, why the double heck can’t I produce one for a temple that was built 2,500 years ago?
I’m an easy-reading Bible reference writer. That’s my niche. It’s where I want to be—helping people get a sense of what the Bible teaches and how Christians interpret those teachings in different ways, and why.
I can’t limit myself to printed books any longer.
I’m facing the same dilemma that newspapers face. I used to be a newspaper journalist and editor. Those guys and gals have gotten to the point where it’s critical that they ask themselves this question:
“Are we in the newspaper business, or the news business?”
If they answer saying they are in the newspaper business, they might as well go shopping for bread and butter because they are toast.
They are in the news business.
I say that with compassion, as someone who still gets the local newspaper thrown onto my driveway every morning.
Newspapers now have to compete with local television news broadcasting, national news broadcasting, and digital news sources such as The Huffington Post.
They can do that quite nicely if they choose. Many have the infrastructure to do the best job with local news. And as far as I can tell, they are almost the only entity in the country reporting objective news. By the way, generally you can tell it’s objective if you can’t figure out what the reporter thinks about the matter.
We writers of Bible reference resources face the same kind of question.
“Are we Bible reference book writers, or are we Bible reference writers?”
A year ago I kept hearing the wishful thinking of book publishers and book agents insisting that the Age of the Book was here to stay.
Tell it to the Scroll.
Now I am hearing agents I respect telling their writers that if they want to survive, they really should consider turning themselves into Hybrid Authors. Create books for print. But create digital books, too.
I think it’s starting to dawn on the Christian publishing industry that the Age of the Book is waning. The Age of Digital Media has come.
Don’t worry. I’ll keep writing printed books. They’re not dead yet.
Christian publishers are gradually making the adjustment. They’re turning some of my books into e-books, Kindle books, even iPad apps.
But it’s fairly limiting when you do these things after the fact. You can do so much more if you plan ahead.
We might even be able to give Gabriel some video-editing software and turn him loose on reconstructing Ezekiel’s temple and taking us on a fly-through – assuming there is a videographer named Gabriel who’s available for hire at a reasonable wage.
I’m determined to get there someday, somehow.
I have to. I’m in the business of helping people understand the Bible. Emerging technology is going to let me do that even better than I’ve ever done it before.
Paul expressed how I feel. He said it in Greek. But I’m going to help him with his 21st Century English:
I’m not as good as I want to be. Not yet, anyhow. But doggone it, I’m giving it all I’ve got. Christ has gotten into me. He’s going to get out of me every good thing I have to give. I’m going to take this prize, by golly. Or I’m going to die trying.
Prayer: Lord, I’d rather not die trying.