Monday, October 27, 2008

Made by Apple in California... Plugged by Vatican in Italy?

In its closing message to the entire church -- not to be confused with the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that'll come From Above in a year or so -- the Synod on the Word called for the use of all technological means available to spread the Scriptures.

Sure, that might not come as a surprise... but writing on the America groupblog, Austen Ivereigh clicks to an even savvier element of the text:
They called for increased distribution of the Bible "in the largest variety of our planet's languages" -- nothing new there -- before adding that "the voice of the divine word must also resonate over the radio, Internet channels with virtual online distribution, CDs, DVDs, iPod ..."

Yup, iPod. Not "mp3 player" -- which would have described the technology -- but specifically the player manufactured by Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs must be thrilled.
Tempting as it is to take bets on the next Apple product to be mentioned in a Vatican text -- tip: wagering "iPhone" would likely lose you money -- there's actually no cigar on this one; across languages, the draft actually said "podcast" (in Italian, "gli podcast"). But even so, as no official document to this point had mentioned anything about digital audio players, it's still a new benchmark of tech-awareness from the Home Office. What's more, in a rather eerie coincidence that should get the conspiracy-theorists going, Friday's release from the Aula just so happened to sync seamlessly with the seventh anniversary of the first iPod's introduction by Jobs at one of the Mac maker's Cupertino keynotes. Over 170 million of the devices have since been sold worldwide.

The Synodal plug might be giving the medium new attention in the top ranks, but it's worth noting that podcast resources on the Scriptures and beyond already abound; the USCCB's been offering the daily Mass readings in podcast form since late 2006, Vatican Radio has syncable feeds in multiple languages, the UK Jesuits have pod-friendly prayers, BustedHalo's loaded up with even more, and among the handful of Anglophone dioceses with 'casts of their own are Atlanta, Rochester, Charlotte, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, whose roster of content includes both a monthly session with Bishop John Wester and fullvideo of Sunday and special liturgies from the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

For all the ecclesiastical pod-talk, though, some might be asking what of the Man In White?

A consummate musicophile, B16 was given a 2GB nano -- color-coordinated, of course -- by the staff of Vatican Radio on a 2006 visit to its studios.

Suffice it to say, it wasn't his first... by now, that one's up for a refresh.