The printing press and self-discipline

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. ~Psalm 119:9-11

A little while back I remember seeing a discussion in the comments of a post discussing the effects the advent of the printing press had on Christianity, and the comments of one person in particular. This commenter was arguing that the advent of mass-produced bibles had basically only beneficial effects; that Christians (thankfully) no longer needed to memorize scripture like the ancients did, since we now have our own copies in plentiful abundance.

It did not occur to this person that having a paper copy of scripture is not the same as knowing its contents, and that owning many bible does not increase the degree to which you have internalized it as part of your memory and personality. Reading Psalm 119 a week or so ago reminded me of how important the discipline of memorization is, and it makes me wonder how negatively the advent of the printing press has affected the church. (Obviously, I don’t think printing presses should be abolished; but I do think it’s something we need to anticipate the effects of, in order to gain the benefits of technology without incurring a loss of character growth.)