“Illiteracy” is the inability to read; “Orality” is the reliance upon spoken, rather than written, communication. (See here for a more complete description.) Most Americans can read and write, but many Americans prefer not to. They might prefer visual communication (e.g. television) or oral communication (e.g. the radio), as well as simply talking person to person. When I visit people in their homes, I often am aware that there are very few or even no books to be seen. The magazines are often more full of pictures than words. There are a wide number of mission organizations and strategies focusing on illiterate and oral peoples around the world. The International Orality Network and Orality Strategies are two good websites to begin exploring the topic.
I intend to do so over the next couple of weeks–and with the particular twist of tapping these strategies from missions in my own parish. From what I have learned and seen among those working with the orality paradigm, there are several different streams. For example, there are those who focus almost exclusively on drama as a ministry tool; there is a big conversation about teaching the Bible as one book of God’s one story of salvation; and related to that are the chronological bible efforts. The other piece of this conversation is the discipleship movement. I am curious to see where the Lord will lead me in this exercise.