and McClatchy News Service

emily.christensen@wcfcourier.comCEDAR FALLS --- For a generation growing up with digital media, the written word printed on paper has little appeal --- even if it's the word of God.

It's for them that an Orlando, Fla., company came up with the multimedia digital Glo Bible, released in October.

"You have entire generations of people that don't engage paper very well," said Nelson Saba, founder of Immersion Digital. "If you look at Bible literacy among younger generations, it's dismal. This is designed to be a digital alternative to the paper Bible."

A Gallup poll in 2000 found that about a quarter of young people ages 18-29 read the Bible weekly --- about half the rate of those 65 or older. Part of that, Saba contends, is the younger generation's aversion to the printed word.

"There is nothing wrong with paper. I have lots of paper Bibles, but it's just not the media they engage," Saba said.

Lance Bertram, a missional life pastor at Heartland Vineyard Church in Cedar Falls, had hoped to use a donated copy of the digital Bible with his senior high students.

"It's really, really good, but because it doesn't work on our Macs I haven't been able to utilize it," Bertram said. "They have really good pictures and graphics and all the information really interfaced well. You could move back and forth through much of the CD, which I though was really neat."

By the end of the year, Glo software will be available on iPhones and iPads, Nelson said.

"The paper Bible, you have to carry it with you," Saba said. "The biggest advantage of Glo is you can access the Bible through whatever device you have in your hands."

Brian Jones, an associate professor of religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, said the concept of making the Bible "more accessible and relevant" is a great idea. However, those looking to invest in the software should understand the perspective the creators are coming from.

"I'd want people to know if I put one together that I am coming from a mainline moderately liberal position," he said. "I am a critically trained Bible scholar, so I am going to have a different perspective on Genesis 1 than the evangelicals would."

The Glo uses the New International and King James versions. Jones said most churches use the New Revised Standard Version, and that NIV tends to be used in more conservative, evangelical churches. The Glo recently won Bible of the Year award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

The Glo includes a series of interactive buttons that allow users to explore the Bible through text, a biblical timeline, an atlas and specific topics. Users can select a topic such as parenting, and the software will produce all Scripture referring to parenting. They can click on the atlas button, see an aerial map of Jerusalem, zoom down to a specific spot, such as the Dome of the Rock, and take a virtual tour inside the shrine.

The Glo contains 7,000 articles, 2,000 high-definition images and more than 500 virtual tours.

"I think the appeal is in this Internet society people need to see things visually," said Skip Brown, customer-service representative for Long's Christian Book and Outlet store in Altamonte Springs, Fla. "You can get a feeling for what it was like in Christ's time, what Jerusalem looked like, what the streets looked like."

The downside of the Glo, Brown said, is that it takes a more powerful computer with a faster processor and the visual-memory capacity of a video-game system.

Brown believes a mobile digital Bible that can be accessed by computer, phone and tablet computer devices is the high-tech future of Christianity.

"I think everybody already has a Bible," he said. "The plus of this is for people who want to study God's word in a multimedia fashion and understand the concepts visually."

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