We have some more Book of Mormon Central speakers today. The first one we’re going to hear from is Jasmin Rappleye. She is the Web Architect and Content Manager for Book of Mormon Central. She administers all the web properties of Book of Mormon Central and provides computer support to our users. She also serves as the Chief Graphics Designer and the Peer Review Coordinator for the publication of KnoWhys. She enjoys creating KnoWhys to visualize the Book of Mormon and enjoys managing Book of Mormon Central’s volunteers. She also graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. So Jasmin is going to speak next, and she has a host of helpers, I understand. So with that, I’ll turn the time over to Jasmin Rappleye.
I’m really excited to be here today. This is a day I’ve personally looked forward to for a long time now. Today we’re going to present to you a product that we believe is going to change scripture study, and we need it more than ever before. Times of tragedy and trial, in times of intense pressure often produce the greatest periods of innovation. War is one of those sobering examples of a time of high pressure that produces unprecedented ingenuity.
For example, 1809 Napoleon needed a way to get food to his front lines of the army. And so out of this need came the invention of canned food. Not only is this a staple of our food industry today, but it’s helped to alleviate world hunger, as it’s made food more affordable and less perishable.
During the Civil War, James Edward Hanger lost his leg three days after enlisting in the war. And so he invented a hinged prosthetic limb to help him live a more normal life after having his leg amputated. This prosthetic limb blessed thousands then and even more now.
In WWI, the US Army needed a faster way to don and remove clothing quickly in high-pressure situations. The result of this was Gideon Sundback’s hookless fastener, aka the modern zipper.
In WWII the Germans invented the Enigma machine to send coded messages to their armies. The allied forces responded by building what came to be known as a touring machine, which ran algorithms to decrypt these messages. And this was an early predecessor of the modern computer.
And then of course, you get the idea, in the arms and space race of the Cold War competitive pressures eventually caused an explosion of innovation that brought us all the way to the moon.
Now today the United States isn’t in a state of war. However, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the gospel is facing unprecedented challenges and new obstacles. And sometimes these challenges can feel overwhelming. But we believe they can also be opportunities for growth and innovation.
Two out of five Americans report that they check their email, text messages, and social media accounts constantly.
Half of smartphone users claim to use their smartphone within 30 minutes of going to bed at night. A quarter of those say they do it within 10 minutes of falling asleep, and 10 percent say they do it immediately before falling asleep, and I am part of that camp. And then 69 percent of adults also claim to be using their smartphone five minutes after waking up. And I’m also guilty of that.
And of course, there’s a little bit of ugliness that comes with this, even though it’s very convenient. We know that excessive use of cellphones and technology can lead to higher occurrences of depression, anxiety, even possibly suicidal ideation, and technological dependency encourages instant gratification.
It discourages deep critical thinking. Likes, shares, and comments can trigger the pleasure centers of the brain, and a constant stream of comparison can deaden the senses and cause you to lose self-esteem.
So as our world becomes more technologically immersive, what can we do to keep our heads above water? How can we maintain critical thinking skills and faith in today’s world?
Well, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has done a remarkable job of being present and being an active participant in technological innovation. Since the earliest days of the internet, they were there. In fact, many of you probably remember the earliest iterations of LDS.org in 1996. It’s barely even a splash page. Thankfully, the Church’s website, as have most of our websites, have come a long way since then.
Today, ChurchofJesusChrist.org is an indispensable resource for members to magnify their callings, feel inspired, and get news updates.
Similarly, the Church has been successful at spreading awareness through their social media campaigns, such as Light the World, Because of Him, Prince of Peace, Hallelujah, and more.
The Church is also innovative in app development. Many of you may remember that the first Gospel Library app was released almost a decade ago.
And they also have gone through many iterations to get where they are today. And today, Latter-day Saints throughout the world can listen to General Conference talks, prepare their lessons, and read their scriptures all at the push of a button.
In addition, the Church has encouraged and supported trusted, independent organizations to be additional laborers in the vineyard. FairMormon, The Interpreter Foundation, LDS Perspectives, Book of Mormon Central are what some of many, many amazing groups doing all they can to build faith and testimony in today’s world.
Elder Kevin J. Pearson noted at last year’s FairMormon Conference, “We need more Latter-day Saints who know and understand the truth, and can help others find answers for themselves. We can support trusted organizations like FairMormon, which are providing faithful answers to critical questions and independently responding to those who would attack, distort, or deceive. Now, Book of Mormon Central is one of those organizations who is striving to answer Elder Pearson’s commission by creating faithful and cutting-edge content for today’s society.
In 2015, Lynne Wilson and John W. Welch got together and hatched a vision for what ultimately became Book of Mormon Central, a one-stop shop for all things Book of Mormon. Executing Book of Mormon Central’s mission ended up taking the form of four major projects we set out to do at the beginning.
These are first, KnoWhys, concise, media-enriched articles that talk about doctrinal insights or evidence for the Book of Mormon.
Number two, a comprehensive archive of all things Book of Mormon, whether it’s research related or media content.
Number three, our Q&As, short articles that answer difficult or tough questions on the Book of Mormon.
And the final project is what we call the interactive scriptures app. We envision this scripture study app to pull together an immense amount of resources all at a user’s fingertips for studying specifically the Book of Mormon.
Now Book of Mormon Central has spent a lot of time publishing the first three goals, but today we’re excited to cash in on that final goal that we set out to do at the beginning. Since our inception on January 1, 2016, Book of Mormon Central has been on an incredible journey. We have had hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. We’ve had over 17,000 downloads of our KnoWhy app. We’ve had over 1.5 million visitors to our website. You get the idea.
We’ve had impact all over the globe through our English and Spanish channels, like Kirk Magleby talked about today. And we’ve had over 100 people now sign up for our first ever travel excursion to the Caribbean this December for a Book of Mormon cruise.
And we’re on trajectory to have 40 million user-engagements by the end of the year.
But far more important than the numbers we feel is the impact we see we’re having in the lives of people. Take for example this remarkable woman who said, “I am so grateful for FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central for the knowledge they gave me during my faith crisis. They were monumental in helping me gain the knowledge I needed to keep the hope alive that the gospel was true.”
John Bytheway similarly commented that when he showed a video that we had made about chiasmus in the Book of Mormon to his class. He said it was “beautiful, and touching, and so well done. What a treat. My students were touched, and so was I all over again. Thank you.”
And this impact extends to dozens of people who have reached out to us to express appreciation for the work that we’ve been doing.
Now while we feel we have done some good in the world, we cannot be content. We have to humbly and prayerfully do much, much more to be strengthening faith in today’s society. And this is where ScripturePlus comes into play. We, as members of the Church, are increasingly using mobile devices. They are not necessarily increasing their engagement with scripture. We believe that increasing our engagement with scripture through technology is one of the important ways that we’re going to be able to tackle and overcome a myriad of obstacles in today’s world. And so, to do that we are presenting what we believe is an innovative scripture study app.
This is ScripturePlus.
We hope that this app will focus users on Jesus Christ first and foremost. We hope it will facilitate a better reading experience, and it will enhance their scripture study with an exciting amount of new resources we’ve been putting together.
So now I’d just like to quickly walk you through ScripturePlus and what you can expect when you download our app. Here’s a splash screen.
So after the page loads you’ll land on 1 Nephi, Chapter 1. Now like many apps, you’ll probably see familiar elements.
In the top-left corner you have your side-bar menu, where you have your user account information, your settings, and additional information about the app.
In the top-right corner you have a search button where you can run search queries through the entire standard works. And yes, we’re refocusing on the Book of Mormon in this app, but you have access to and we have resources for all the standard works in the Latter-day Saint cannon.
Now if you look at the top, if you press 1 Nephi 1 in the top center bar, you’ll be confronted with a familiar breadcrumb menu, like you might see in the Gospel Library app. Here’s going to be your scripture navigation.
We’re going to navigate here to 1 Nephi, Chapter 8.
So, if I press 1 Nephi, Chapter 8, I’m in Lehi’s vision. And so you may notice at the bottom there’s a bar that says, Study and Plans. We have big plans for the Plans button, but I’m not going to talk about them right now. Instead we’re going to focus on the Study button. And this is where the magic happens.
If you press the Study button or tap on 1 Nephi, Chapter 8, verse 1, this panel is going to pop up, and you’re going to be presented with a host of resources at your disposal.
In this case we’re looking at the Video tab. And you’re presented with several options for videos you can watch about this passage of scripture. So, I’m going to tap on the first one, which is The Church of Jesus Christ’s Book of Mormon Stories.
I’m brought to a landing page. If I tap again, I can watch this video in full screen.
Now let’s navigate back to that video pane or the video tab, and let’s flip over to the Images panel, the Images tab. And here you have some images. And you can kind of get the idea.
If I clicked on El sueño de Lehi by Jorge Cocco, I’m brought to a full screen image, where I can look at the image, read some information on the artist or the piece, double-tap and have a full screen experience where I can pinch, zoom, and explore the image.
Going back, let’s explore audio. I’m going to touch on the first thumbnail here, which is a lecture by Hugh Nibley hosted in the Book of Mormon Central archive about the role of prophets.
And here is the Insights tab, if we go one more to the right. And this is where you’re going to find a lot of meat. We’ve put together a lot of great resources, research resources, where you can find KnoWhys, quotes, and Q&As.
I’ll tap on the KnoWhy that’s listed here, and I can read about what fruit is white, discussing ancient precedents for white fruit when it comes to dreams and visions in the ancient world.
I’m going to tap on the quote, and it brings me to The Central Symbol of Lehi’s Dream. And it talks about the seeds, because Chapter 8 is all about Lehi’s dream, but it’s kind of odd that the first verse talks about the seeds that they had brought with them. And so this quote kind of gives you an interesting insight.
I tap on Q&As on the far right there. It brings up maybe a more difficult question to tackle, such as why are there similarities between Lehi’s dream and a dream that Joseph Smith Senior had years before the Book of Mormon was published? I won’t answer that question for you now, but you can learn about it in our app.
And then finally there is a tab for speaker identification. So no matter where you are in the text, you can identify who is narrating, in this case Nephi, son of Lehi.
And so that is basically the run through of ScripturePlus. We are thrilled to share it with you guys. And many of you may be wondering when? When can I get this? Well there will be additional information coming at Education Week at Brigham Young University in the middle of August.
We are imminently close to release. We are weeks away for letting you download this app to your phone. And if you have interest in having this app, go to BookofMormonCentral.org, subscribe to our email list, follow us on social media, and we guarantee we will notify you as soon as this is ready to go. We are very excited and want you to have it, so you can have an engaging scripture study experience, especially in 2020 when the Church’s curriculum turns to the Book of Mormon.
Now we want to talk a little bit about what went into this app, because we have gathered together a lot of resources that we think you’re going to love.
So, we’re going to talk about design, research content, and multimedia that went into it.
First, I’m going to talk about design. So, the research and the drafts, and the iteration that went into designing this app took us several years.
While many of you are probably familiar with the Gospel Library app, there are dozens of Bible study apps out there, and we wanted to make sure that no stone was left unturned. So, we researched every app we could find so that we could deliver an optimal experience for studying the scriptures for a Latter-day Saint audience.
Now in 2015 is when we first cracked this idea, and we started with pretty rough wire frames to start out. But we iterated over, and over, and over again. We consulted with designers from BYU, from Silicon Valley, even Google itself to give what we have today. And while the journey has still a long way to go, we believe that what we have brought to you is going to be a delight for users studying their scriptures.
And now we’re going to talk about the content that went into this app.
So, my name is Neal Rappleye, and as you’ll see I’m sure, I’m the much less competent Rappleye that’s participating in this presentation here. But I was part of the team that helped develop some of the research and study resources that went into this app. So, I’m just going to run through them pretty quickly. Jasmin already gave you a pretty good idea of some of the things that are going to be in here.
So, one of the main things we did is we have reformatted the text of the Book of Mormon for this app. It is still going to have the traditional chapters and verses, but they’ve been reformatted to better emphasize the flow and continuity of the text verses are grouped into short paragraphs. Headings and subheadings have been added to help guide you as a reader through the text. And there are quotation marks that we’ve added around shorter quotations and longer quotations have been indented to kind of help you navigate a little bit and better follow when the writer or speaker is changing for you.
And to go along with that, we’ve also, as Jasmin mentioned,
added speaker identification information there so that you can better follow along with who is talking and when. This will help you not lose track of what’s going on, and there are several parts in the Book of Mormon where it can get pretty confusing. There’s also brief biographical information about whoever the author or speaker is at a given point so that you can quickly get some background on them. And I think this will be especially helpful, because who hasn’t ever been preparing a lesson or a talk, and you’ve got a passage you want to quote, and you’re kind of like, wait a second, who’s talking here? Right? You’ll just be able to very quickly check that through our app.
The next thing Kirk and Jasmin have already talked about are KnoWhys. This has been probably the main product from us a Book of Mormon Central up to this point.
We have put out the short research essays. We also have videos that go along with them. They’re available in audio and things like that. We have put out a lot of them, as Kirk already mentioned, 527 in English, 524 in Spanish.
That’s a total of over 1,051. Those are all going to be in the app tied into specific verses in the Book of Mormon so that as you’re going along, you’re going to be able to find these essays and videos that will give you insight into the Book of Mormon as you’re reading.
We’ve also added and supplemented that with over 2,000 quotes from general authorities and scholars alike that will provide insight into several different verses.
For example, we have this one here from K. Douglas Basset, who’s talking about Alma 56. We tied this one specifically to Alma 56:52. He says, “Alma 53 is narrated in third person by Mormon.” This is the first story. Alma 53 is the first story you get about the sons of Helaman, who is making an abridgment. But Alma 56 through 58, “Mormon chooses to give us an account on the sons of Helaman from the original source, which happens to be a letter from Helaman. Mormon lets us see their battles through the pen of a man who saw the courage of these stripling warriors firsthand.” So that’s a nice little insight. We think, how does that change what you’re reading in Alma 56 through 58 when you realize you’re not getting a later abridgment but firsthand witness on the courage of the stripling warriors?
And then another kind of fun one here—Elder Holland tied to 1 Nephi 18:11-15: “I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. Surely, he must have said at least once, ‘Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.’ Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.” I talked to Jared Riddick, who’s the one who actually helped curate most of the quotes, and he mentioned he actually slipped this in, in a number of places in 1 Nephi whenever you get murmuring from Laman. So, you’ll have that gem to look forward to, along with like I said over 2,000 other quotes from General Authorities and scholars that will give you insight into the Book of Mormon.
And then we also have the Q&A, like Jasmin mentioned. These are going to be things that tackle some common but difficult, or sometimes difficult questions—and will be linked directly into the text where the question might arise for you.
Things like: why are there horses in the Book of Mormon? Was there cement in Ancient America? Did the Jaredites have swine? And things like that. And we’ll provide well-researched, faithful perspectives and answers on these kinds of questions.
And then last but certainly not least, we have red lettering that we’ve done to emphasize how the Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ. All the words quoted directly from members of the Godhead will be in red lettering. All the names and titles referring to members of the Godhead will be in bold red lettering. And all the attributes of members of the Godhead will be in italic red lettering. And so, it will really pop out to you all the ways the Book of Mormon is testifying to you about Jesus Christ, along with of course God the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. This is one of the most important features in our opinion, because as Kirk mentioned, as Jasmine mentioned, what we’re trying to do ultimately is to bring people to Jesus Christ and help people come closer to Jesus Christ and build their testimony of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon. We really feel strongly that this is going to help achieve that.
And then in the very near future, we are planning to add some commentary that will also supplement and enhance your study. In fact, we have Brant Gardner, who is a research associate for us, also happens to be one of the best living scholars of the Book of Mormon right now. He is currently writing a commentary, a verse-by-verse commentary that is being custom made specifically for this app. The commentary units will be about two minutes each to read or listen to. And we’re going to make it available in audio as well so that you can listen to it on your drive, or going on a run, or whatever. But it will only take about two minutes to read or listen to, so even those who don’t have a lot of extra time will be able to dig just a little deeper. And we’re hoping to have that feature available a few months after we launch.
My name is Daniel Smith, and I’ve been helping out with the multimedia. And I’m actually really excited about this. For those who know me, I love multimedia. I love videos. I love pictures. And to be able to help visualize the scriptures is so exciting to have this in the app and available to everybody.
So, we’ve worked on several projects. The first one that we’ll talk about is the charts, and this has actually been mostly done by Jasmin.
And we’ve taken a lot of the great content from—actually all of the charts from Charting the Book of Mormon, and we’ve taken these images that you can see here were designed for print, designed for a book, but we wanted to be able to really add color to them, liven them up, and so we’ve also made them so they fit on a screen better, so they really will be mobile friendly.
So you can see a couple of examples here.
Here’s another example.
And another example. So again, this will really help to bring the scriptures alive through these incredible charts that have already been created, but we’ve really added a lot of life and color to them.
The next aspect that we’ve also been working on is images. And one of the things that we’ve actually done as part of this project is to commission several pieces of art that will be brand new just for the app.
For example, this is a piece of artwork done by a BYU student, Normandy Poulter, and she has done some incredible artwork.
And she’s basically created a header image for every single one of the books of the Book of Mormon. So, as you go through, you’ll see here on the app that when you go to the beginning of the book, you’ll have an image there for the app. And we also are going to be adding little by little images throughout the text so that it won’t just be at the beginning of the book, but it will also be throughout the entire Book of Mormon and eventually throughout all the scriptures.
Here’s another image. This is for 3 Nephi. Again, a beautiful image by Normandy.
This is the image for 4th Nephi.
Here’s an image for Ether. Aren’t these beautiful?
And then we also have licensed images from many artists, where we’ve gone in and requested permission, licensed it from them, so we have a lot of great content that will be in there for the Book of Mormon, but we’ve also added a lot of content for the Bible as well from some of these artists. And just a note on this if you’re an artist and would like to see your art in here, come talk to us at our table. We’d love to be able to see if there might be a way where we can get some more art in there. We’re always looking for new art. And so it’s something that we hope to be able to have a lot of art and a lot of visual content within the app.
We also have a lot of the content from our archives. So these are images that you may be familiar with if you’ve seen our KnoWhy videos or looked through the archive. So all of the artwork that is in the archive will also be in the app.
And then we’ll also have the art that has been submitted and the winners for the art contest like we had today. So those will all be attached into the app, so that you will be able to go through and see exactly the piece of art that relates to the verse, and be able to find information.
And one of the things that we’re also trying to do—we don’t necessarily have this for every piece of art, but we’re trying to allow the artists, if they’re alive, to be able to give insights into what they had in their impressions and feelings as they did the art. And so each of these images in addition to having the actual image will have a description, have information about the artist, so that you can be able to find more about the piece of artwork.
Another one that I’m very excited about as well is this art that has been created. And it was by one of the artists that helped with Marvel and DC, he was an artist for Marvel and DC. And he’s done incredible artwork. I mean have you ever seen pictures like this before of the stories of the Book of Mormon? And do you think that teenagers, especially teenage boys, let’s be honest, are not going to love this artwork? And so, he’s only done the very first part of the Book of Mormon, but we have about 120 of these images that will be within the app.
These are some images that I’ve also been helping out with. I’ve helped out a lot with recreating the tabernacle of Moses and different recreations. And so I’ve gone through and photographed many of the feasts, anointing, at the laver, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, things like that. And so that will, in addition to illustrating some of the stories within the Book of Mormon, that talk about different aspects of the Law of Moses, this will also help to illustrate the Old Testament and New Testament as those stories come about.
Another project that we have been working on is we’ve taken and scanned hundreds of old Bible images. For example, here is an old Bible that’s illustrated. It’s from 1895. It’s out of print, and it has beautiful images in it. And so we’ve scanned and restored all of these images, and these will be available within the app as well, and there will be eventually around 2,000 of these images.
So these are again just a couple of those images that we have, the old Bibles, all out of copyright, so luckily we can use them. And so right now we have well over a thousand images, and we will be adding images on a regular basis. So you’ll always see new content. That’s one of the things that we’re really excited about, is you’ll always see new content.
Then we’re working also on 3D models that will be added to help bring the locations of the scriptures to life.
So this is an example where we have Solomon’s temple inside the holy place. And so this will be not only images, but also 360s, so you can actually look around and see what these locations would have been like.
And then you’ll also have other sites. So we’ve got the original Nauvoo temple, what it would have looked like. So this is the baptistry, again a 3D model. And also—we’ve gotten permission to be able to use some 360s from a team called the Virtual Historian. And they’ve gone through all of the Doctrine & Covenant sites and taken 360s of each of the locations. So as you’re reading the Doctrine & Covenants, you’ll be able to see the stories come to life.
And then we will have of course videos.
We’re cataloguing all the videos from the Church that relate to the Book of Mormon and to the scriptures. So those will all be tagged within it. And then we’re also scouring the internet on YouTube to find the best videos that will help visualize and teach a good message about the scriptures. So that will be another project. And, once the Book of Mormon videos come out, those will also be tagged of course.
So we want to show you a video that we have been working on that we’re particularly excited about. And this video hopefully will kind of give you an idea of what we envision this app to do. This is actually just the text from the Title Page, but I hope that as you watch it, it will really help you bring the Title Page to life. And so this is content, for example, that will be within the app.
[Video starts 00:33:04.2 ] An account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi … Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites … The Book of Mormon. (Title Page) And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people (Words of Mormon 1:1–2). And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record (Words of Mormon 1:9). Which is written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile … Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed … Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile (Title Page). Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon (Mormon 8:1). Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof (Mormon 8:5). Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ (Title Page). And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:4). [end video 00:36:29.2 ]
Isn’t that amazing? The people I get to work with at Book of Mormon Central are incredible. My name is Taylor Halverson. I’m one of the Volunteer Executives at Book of Mormon Central. About 17 years ago I was at grad school. I had somehow been convinced by the Spirit to pursue two PhDs at the same time, one in Biblical Studies and one in Instructional Technology. By day I would design the future of learning, by night I would study the past. And I started to fantasize about the way of bringing these things together. I used to think about these kinds of very things we’ve shown you today. It’s incredible to see groups like FairMormon, Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, and others grabbing this vision and moving forward.
Why do we do this? It’s not about the scholarship; it’s not about the imagery, which all are incredible. It’s about Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re here. The Book of Mormon is an ancient and authentic witness of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is the most beautiful literary document ever created, the most doctrinally amazing and everlastingly applicable book that’s ever been created. That’s why we do this. We are inviting people to take the Book of Mormon seriously, to take seriously its witness of Jesus Christ, to entice them to look yet again, to read again, to share with others.
If we think about the children of Israel, they were enslaved. They were in Egypt, another symbol of Babylon or the world. God had to save them by mighty acts of power and wonder. He took them out into the wild-er-ness, into the wilderness, to Sinai, and there He wanted to covenant with them. He wanted them to taste of His reality, of His word. He wanted to enter into covenant. And if we look at the Bible, the Bible is a representation of the covenant that God wanted to be in with His people. The Book of Mormon is part of that covenantal tradition. God wants us to consume the word, to participate in the word, and there’s so much distraction in the world today. Our hope, that what we are producing here, with ongoing help from you and many others, will invite people afresh to experience the word of God in their lives, to find the power, the beauty, the joy of taking seriously God and Jesus in their lives, that the Atonement is real, that faith can transform your life, that repentance will bring forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Ghost truly can empower you to endure to the end.
We have a desire and plan for many more things to do in the app, what I call the Tyndale moment. Many centuries ago, there was a lone man who believed that the common people needed access to the scriptures. And so he took it upon himself to translate it into English. Well, the Tyndale moment, his desire has finally won the day. It’s the rare case where somebody does not have access to the Bible or to the scriptures. What we don’t easily have access to now is the greatest insights, and scholarship, and imagery contextually tagged into the scriptures. And so what we are hoping to do is to have a new Tyndale moment where the greatest thinking about the Book of Mormon, the greatest testimony about the Book of Mormon can be there to encourage people to take it again seriously and apply it into their lives.
And in the future, we want to add maps, interactive maps, and time-lines, virtual reality experiences, testimonies. We even have this idea for what we call a crowdsourced Book of Mormon, where each verse is read by a different individual on video, where people can actually see the power of the Book of Mormon across the world, wherever we might go.
We’re thrilled to share this with you. We’re looking forward to the future. We invite your support and help. And I think we’re going to take a few minutes for questions. Is that correct? Do we have time for questions? Okay.
We’ve gotten a few questions. The first one, a lot of it does revolve around the relationship with this app and the Gospel Library app. Why don’t you just combine forces? Will I be able to sync my notes? Is the Church doing something similar? And our answer to that is that we don’t want to eclipse anything that the Church is doing. We think they’re doing a marvelous job. The Gospel Library app serves specific purposes for what the Church is going to do, a global audience with global needs. We hope that this app will serve as a supplementary resource for you and will enhance your study, and help you dive a little bit deeper, since the Church is limited on what it can provide. We hope to provide a certain niche of content.
We’ve actually been in close contact with the Church about this for many years. And they’ve been very encouraging about what we’re doing. In fact, Book of Mormon Central received the first digital scripture license from the Church to do exactly what we’re doing. And we continue to work with them, and be engaged with them, so that we share resources where possible, and don’t overlap where unnecessary.
And that leads with a follow-up question of, does the Church approve of the use of these images and video content in Sunday School and Seminary? And the answer that Elder Pearson gave at last year’s FairMormon Conference, yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes, something like that. They encourage use of all of those resources.
Questions about how much the app will cost? Zero. This is a 100 percent free app, and we are excited to offer it to Latter-day Saints. [Applause] Yeah.
Will the app be PC compatible? Will I have it on a browser like ChurchofJesusChrist.org does? The answer is yes. Our first release is going to be for a mobile phone, iOS is going to be our first operating system, then we’ll follow with Android, and then we’ll be providing access on the web as well.
What is the key to making the use of smartphones in the classroom worth the potential for students to be distracted? This is an excellent question. There were a couple of other questions along these lines about distractions in church and using devices and things like that. Well first of all, there’s kind of a little bit of a “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality, whereas we know that youth, and adults, and we’re increasingly using devices, so let’s make sure when they’re using them it’s positive, faithful content. We primarily foresee this as a personal study tool less than perhaps using it in the classroom, but we do hope that also becomes an opportunity for learning as well. We just think that how wonderful would it be is if you’re in the grocery line, or in the bathroom, or waiting for something you pull out your phone, and you check your messages and your social media accounts—but instead maybe you pull out your scriptures and you watch a video, or read a quick quote to get a little bit of inspiration. That’s the goal with ScripturePlus.
Yeah. We also got a question about whether we’ll be adding more quotes and so on to the ScripturePlus app? The answer is yes. Everything you saw us talking about will be in there. We’re going to be constantly, as we put out more KnoWhys, as we find more images, as we make more charts, and on, and on, we’re going to be constantly adding more of these kinds of resources into the app. We hope to be having regular updates that will expand the available resources. So this is a never-ending treadmill of work for us, but we hope it’s also a never-ending treadmill of inspiration for you.
And then one final question, can I download videos or content offline? The answer is yes, but for this first release probably not. We do hope that ultimately you’ll be able to download content as well, though it depends on the artist’s licensing permissions as well. Some artists have asked that we have more restrictions on that. But for the public domain, things that Daniel has scanned for example, those are going to be all freely available. Most of our videos will as well.
So that, I believe, is most of the questions. Thank you very much. We’ve really enjoyed doing this.