Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Literacy in the modern world

         For many years, 2000, in fact, the church prevented regular folks from learning to read. The bible was not printed in English, it took Martin Luther to rectify that – after much pain and suffering. Liturgy was learned by rote and many, many youngsters learned their catechism by memorization. Church theology was controlled by the priests until 1522. It was Luther who translated the New Testament into the German language, making accessible to commoners.. At this point, people could think about his or her personal relationship with God and come to his or her own conclusions.
         Unfortunately, the ancient Catholic church philosophy was upheld in the slavery movement in the U.S., since slaves who could read could navigate their way to freedom. Literate slaves could use various means to figure out how to get away from their slave owners. Literate slaves could communicate with members of the Underground Railroad. Many of the most famous influencers in the anti-slavery movement taught slaves to read so that they might be free.
         In this, the Information Age, we are providing less information than ever before. Instead of “what Not to Wear” we need “what NOT to type”. China sends 76.4 billions text messages, the US 21.4 billion. Most of these messages have little depth and simply aid in meaningless communications. People in chat rooms communicate at such a surface level that we cannot imagine why they spend the time. Many times such communications end in disaster, rather than the improvement of the human condition.
         The communication pendulum has swung. Text message is a surface communication best used for breadth and quantity of communications, rather than depth of communication, understanding and knowledge. We are moving from “intimacy and substance” (McGrath, 2006) to the most pleurile and simple of communications. Young folks use L8R, rather than later, and “like” instead of, well, what are they really using for? It makes no sense.

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