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Southern-Style Scripture And Other Technological Leaps Of Faith

It’s the Good Book like you’ve never heard it before.

The tech guru at Dallas Theological Seminary has built a web app that translates the Bible into “Texan.”

But replacing “yous” with “ya’lls” is just one of the faith-based technology projects John Dyer’s involved in.

Resident KERA Texan BJ Austin had no problem reading John Dyer’s Texas Bible aloud. In fact, her 'ya’lls' sounded pretty natural. That’s the idea, and that’s also why John Dyer’s translation app isn’t limited to the South.

“I’m looking at John 15 where Jesus is talking to his Disciples right before he dies. So there’s a lot of reference where he says ‘you are the branches and I am the vine’ but now it says ‘youse guys are the branches and I am the vine,’” Dyer says.

Credit Courtney Collins / KERA News
John Dyer's web app in "ya'll" replacement mode.

The app is truly a “choose your own region” piece of technology. If you favor the simple ‘you guys,’ there’s a translation for that. Folks from across the pond can sub in ‘you lot,’ and Old English history buffs can choose the traditional ‘ye.’

Dyer’s office at the Dallas Theological Seminary is clearly the space of a man who loves technology.

He uses a wireless mouse and keyboard to surf on a giant, wall mounted monitor. And there are several shelves in his bookcase devoted to memorabilia like old model cell phones and Viewmasters.

Dyer says invention has always been a part of our religious history; think Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel.

“So you see this all throughout, you even see at the end of the biblical story, there’s a city that comes down from heaven full of things people have made,” Dyer says. “So I think made things play a big role in the way the Bible portrays what humanity’s about.”

While the bible project was amusing and educational, Dyer has also designed technology for serious missions. He works with a company that brings SD cards loaded with bible software to countries like Iran and North Korea.

“It doesn’t install on the computer, so there’s no software that someone could find afterward, and then it doesn’t hit the internet in any way so it’s not like someone can watch the traffic, so in theory, even the NSA doesn’t know what you’re doing,” says Dyer.

His SD cards are designed to be low-key, but he points to other religious technology that’s supposed to make a splash.

Since the King James Version of the Bible is public domain in America, people can alter or add to its text. There’s a Green Bible for environmentalists, the Queen James Bible for the gay community and dozens of others. These custom scriptures are known as “Franken-Bibles” and are simple to print-on-demand.

“A small church could do 100 copies very easily whereas even a decade ago, 100 copies would have been pretty expensive, now it’s almost nothing,” Dyer says.

Not advanced enough for you? How about something that literally syncs your smart phone with the pulpit on Sunday. Yep, there’s an app for that.

Dyer says technology will continue to advance and bring the church with it. But one thing he holds sacred is physically going to church.

“I think if you were ever to get to the point where you just sat back on Sunday morning and watched TV and that was church? I think that would probably be taking entertainment a bit too far,” says Dyer.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.