Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cell Phone as Sanctuary?

Never underestimate people's ability to find unintended uses for new technologies. Now, especially for small handheld internet-connected digital devices.

"We believe everyone lives very rushed, harried lives and like to think of the cell as your sanctuary on the go," said Martha Cotton, co-founder of the Christian media company Good News Holdings, whose customers get videos of Christian extreme athletes and talks from Christian motivational speakers on their phones. She calls the pieces "short-attention-span theater."

Using a phone for spiritual purposes raises unique questions: Is it rude to watch your phone in church -- if that's where you've downloaded your Bible? Can text-message blessings be spiritually enriching? Is there a sense of religious community on a cellular phone?

Cellphones actually might be well suited for spiritual communication. Carried everywhere by their owners, they are the most intimate piece of technology many people own. They are emblazoned with personalized "wallpaper," have ring tones meant to advertise their owners' very essence and are loaded with personal information.

These palm-size gadgets "can take on a mystical significance," said James Katz, who studies the cultural and social impact of cellphones at Rutgers University, where he is the director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies.

- Above from "In a Tech-Savvy World, the Word of God Goes Mobile," By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, November 5, 2006; C01

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