What do you give to a troop deployed in the field who already has everything? A bible on a stick, of course. At least, that’s what the organization Faith Comes by Hearing thinks, as it’s sent over 20,000 digital audio bibles to U.S. troops currently in action.
The BibleSticks are digital audio bibles, carrying the Audio Drama version of the new testament, designed to be small, easy to carry, and to appeal to the (yes, you guessed it) “iPod generation.” So says Faith Comes by Hearing’s national director Troy Carl, anyway. Carl notes that the devices have received a “tremendous response” and that more than 200 chaplains across the different military services are using the BibleSticks as part of their ministrations.
The idea makes pretty good sense–reading is now much less of a habit than it used to be, and religious troops may be pleased at a digital audio version of the bible which is more modern (reminding us of the multimedia bible we mentioned recently) easy to carry, and can be flicked on in the dark during off-duty sleep periods without disturbing anyone else. It’s even designed to be low-visibility so, you know, your bible doesn’t get you shot (unlike that bright white iRosary).
Combat is one of those unique situations that really makes a person focus on theological issues, it goes without saying, and there’s the old adage that there’re no atheists in a foxhole (even though it’s not actually true). But with so many thousands of troops currently deployed, the percentage who are using the BibleSticks is actually quite small. And maybe we should be grateful for that: One Army chaplain, referring to the BibleSticks, noted how fabulous it was that the soldiers are now “able to listen to the Word of God while doing missions.” An audio bible giving succor to a scared and lonely Christian far from home is an admirable thing, but the image of a disturbed troop, all crazied-up in battle, marching along with a gun and the story of the bible ringing in his ears and wreaking biblical vengeance is a pretty uncomfortable one.