Dave Roberts carried on the Digital Children conference with Clay Tablets to iPads:
Watching a programme about impressionist paintings was like watching paint dry, but was surprised and became hooked to the four programmes in the series. The presenter spoke about howthe artists wanted to paint the ordinary things.
They were aided by several things
- Tube technology for storing paint came into being
- Someone invented an easel that you could fold up and take with you
- The railways were invented so people could travel to do the Normandy scenes
- The brushes changed allowing the daubing to take place.
What is the core of who we are? God the Father, Jesus the Son, work and nature of the Holy Spirit. But John 1 with the word becoming flesh is pivotal. Words capture faith – who we are and what we believe.
- How has culture dealt with words, how have Christians dealt with words?
- Are we early adopters of technology with words.
Or tablets of stone, the 10 Commandments were handed down on tablets and still guide us now. Lots of storytelling was done in hieroglyphics and picture form on clay tablets – much of which we morally wouldn’t agree with; recorded debt – each bit scratched off and then the tablet is broken when the debt is paid is a legitimate purpose but often turned out to be illegitimate; literacy related to the devout who formed schools for children to learn – honey on lips – honey on the tablets for the letters which they picked out with hteir fingers.
The medium for the scene was Jesus picking up a scroll and reading Isaiah saying this is what he had come to do. This suggests Jesus had literacy skills. The children were taught to read so they could read the scrolls – but in reality they were asked to memorise the first five books of the Bible. The oral tradition was very strong – some countries the Christians learn scripture by memory in case they have their Bibles taken off them by persecuting governments.
Paul writes epistles on the scrolls and uses them to help believers.
Mass Teaching Needs
The reformation was important as it allowed dissent from one theological view – John Wesley was key for this and was influenced by Zinserzolf. But Zinserzolf was in rebellion against monastic scholasticism, and wanted ordinary people to meet in homes and begin to understand the Bible. Out of this comes a push for mass literacy. In pietistic communities they start to educate the girls as well as the boys. In general literature we see references to blackboards enabling teachers to communicate on a highly visible surface.
The move to mass literacy needs equipment
Then something happened coming from Wesley based around the Clapham Sect who said they would help Wilberforce to abolish slavery, then led to the formation of the NSPCC and the RSPCA, the Religious Tract Society and the Bible Society. We saw a tension between the Bible, Pilgrims Progress etc., against books on the Occult, witch craft. All of the big publishers came from Christian movements, e.g. Harper Collins, Hodder & Stoughton, Mills & Boons.
Mass literacy through organisations such as the London City Mission breaks the hegemony of a particular view point bringing democracy and equality. This needs tools – clay was discovered to develop pencils.
Tell me a story
Mass literacy is an important aspect in the story telling. Telling the story through pictures came through television and flannelgraph.
There must be an alternative
The CUBE project of the 1950s was The Eagle, started by a Anglican Vicar who believed children’s minds were being poisoned by comics and felt that the church had an inadequate response. The first print run had 900,000 with Dan Dare being a manly vicar or parson. The back page had a story linked to the Apostle Paul.
Tell me the story with moving pictures
Christians got involved in moving pictures telling great stories with good skills, leading to Veggietales in the Charts and films in the Cinema.
The Word is the Word is the Word. Sometimes used for desperately hurtful purposes but equally for building up. We’ve been in the business of using technology from forever. Taking information away from elite groups and onto the wider population.