One tends to think of communication, especially today in terms of the Internet and its associated applications. The traditional media of communication, have, as a consequence, been somewhat neglected and suffered a decline in attractiveness.

However, the traditional print media have a certain edge over the electronic variety in that they can influence more deeply the recipients. The electronic variety have a tendency to be very transient. They appear at the click of a button and disappear with even greater speed, invariably leaving little or no impact on the recipient. The whole process of scrolling through texts on a screen is not exactly conducive to studied reflection.

Print media, on the other hand is there to be read, pondered, returned to again and again at will, at any time and any place without recipients having to remain staring at a screen.

The Church has always considered the means of communication very essential and even indispensable tools in the fulfilment of its mission to announce the Good News to all creation. Indeed it has kept itself very much in the forefront in its use of the media. Whilst it keeps up with the very latest, it still however maintains the importance of the more traditional media especially print media in the form of books.

As we celebrate World Communication Day we would like to draw attention not only to the very modern tools that are available today, but also to the more traditional printed world of books as a very important, dare we say indispensable, tool to deepen our knowledge of our faith and be able to bear more effective testimony through our lives to the Good News of Salvation.

The Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church points unequivocally to the importance of a deep understanding of our own faith if we are to maximize our effectiveness in the use of other media to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. That deep understanding, however, can be very effectively achieved through books on the various aspects of our faith. There is no shortage of good books available, though it must be admitted there is perhaps a variety of factors which can contribute to hesitancy in the utilization of such resources.

In our local context, there are no less than four book shops run by the Church (there were five until recently, before one was forced to close due to lack of business). None of them, however, reports Phenomenal sales of Religious books.

One factor must certainly be the much touted "No time, lah!" Solid reading admittedly requires time, a scarce commodity in the frenetic life -style of most Singaporean s. Another factor would certainly be the cost of religious books. While the relative cost of books versus religious articles is much lower the balance seems to tip in favour of religious articles which one buys once for all, so to speak, when one needs or desires such a piece. Yet, the fact remains, that knowledge of our faith, while certainly not everything, does indeed possess the potential of deepening our faith and enabling us to witness more clearly and effectively though our lives and our work.

Dr (Rev) Robert P. Balhetchet

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