iPhone apps redefine religious worship

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 30 2011 11:35 p.m. MST

The LDS Church currently offers six apps for the iPhone, the most prominent of which is Gospel Library, which compiles all Mormon scripture with content from thousands of magazines, manuals and handbooks. Because Mormon Sunday School encourages attendees to bring their own scriptures and manuals, it's often impossible to tell whether a Mormon tapping away on a smartphone is following along with the teacher's lesson or playing Angry Birds.

"We all have different ways of worshipping, and we have different ways of focusing," Gibbons said. "I think that we need to allow for the culture to adapt to what technologies can bring that worship experience. The truth is we don't know what people are doing with our technologies, and what's going to cause them to have the most meaningful worship experience ought to be okay with us."

Rabbi Miller is an early adopter of new technologies who writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The New York Jewish Week while living in Michigan. From helping his young children learn Hebrew to showing his wife a mobile app that outlines how to substitute ingredients to make a non-kosher recipe into a kosher one, he wholeheartedly embraces the way a quality smartphone app can enhance his family's religious observance.

Yet for all his ebullient enthusiasm, Miller readily concedes limiting factors still exist that constrain how much emerging technology can redefine worship before the change starts to undercut core characteristics inherent in all religious communities.

"I would hate to see our synagogues and churches become places that are only virtual communities," Miller said. "We still need to actually be in the bricks-and-mortar institution with our co-religionists to really experience community. There are significant limitations to technology, but what I like to do is accentuate the positive and see how we can exploit technology for the betterment of religion and charitable causes."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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