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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

I'm Robert Siegel. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: First, "Avatar" conquered the box office and on Thursday it makes a play for your living room on DVD and Blu-ray, but the release will be in regular 2-D, not 3-D. You'll have to wait until the holidays for the extra dimension. Ever since the film arrived in theaters, there's been a race to bring 3-D technology to screens big and small.

And as NPR's Art Silverman reports, stereoscopic viewing is no longer a guilty pleasure only for the secular world.

ART SILVERMAN: I went to an exhibition of 3-D TV here in Washington, D.C. and I was impressed watching perspiring men shoot hoops, climbers descend into the Grand Canyon, and 3-D fish swim about.

Mr. DARREN O'DEDRAY: Makes you feel like you're truly in the ocean.

SILVERMAN: That's fellow gawker Darren O'Dedray of Tysons Corner, Virginia. So, if 3-D technology can take us under the water, could it let us see someone special walk on the water?

(Soundbite of music)

Reverend ROBERT REED (Director, CatholicTV Network): Welcome to 3-D CatholicTV.com. We're glad you stopped by.

SILVERMAN: CatholicTV out of Boston has gone 3-D.

Rev. REED: I'm Father Reed, and these are my 3-D glasses.

SILVERMAN: So far so good. But here's the trouble, there's no storytelling. CatholicTV's website is mostly travelogue. A walk through St. Peter's Square, tours of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I expect 3-D to give me some spectacular vision.

Professor ANGELA ZITO (Co-director of Center for Religion and Media, New York University): I would show the transformations of the body of Christ.

SILVERMAN: That's Professor Angela Zito. She's the co-director of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University. While Zito wishes the Catholic video outlet was generating more vivid content, she's not at all surprised that the church has embraced 3-D.

Prof. ZITO: Printing was actually invented by Chinese Buddhists in order to produce sutras.

SILVERMAN: What excites Zito about the potential of 3-D for religion is that the technology allows us to see the un-seeable.

Prof. ZITO: Our imaginations don't work in a vacuum. They actually require a kind of vehicle or something to inspire them. And I don't think that this is going to limit our imaginations. I think it's going to concretize more seductively the things that we can imagine.

SILVERMAN: Once CatholicTV lets us use our imaginations more, it will have greater impact on viewers. CatholicTV's Father Robert Reed says at this point, 3-D TV is still just a gimmick for them.

Rev. REED: Considering the fact that our faith has so many dimensions, it just seemed sensible to me to look at 3-D and to see what we could do with it right now and how we could use it in the future.

(Soundbite of TV show)

Rev. REED: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining me to pray the glorious mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, we are standing here in Piazza San Pietro.

SILVERMAN: For now, CatholicTV has the future to itself: No other religion has 3-D plans. Not the Mormons, not the Baptists, not the Muslims, not the Hindus. Even the Jews are still operating in 2-D.

Rabbi MARK GOLUB (President and Executive Producer, Shalom TV): In the past, 3-D came and went. I am very skeptical.

SILVERMAN: That's Rabbi Mark Golub, president and executive producer of Shalom TV.

Rabbi GOLUB: We are still, you know, sort of we're horse and buggy here. And the Jewish community has focused all of its attention in the past on print and the print media. We are the people of the book.

SILVERMAN: And Rabbi Golub has no envy about being beaten to 3-D by a Catholic TV outlet.

Rabbi GOLUB: The Catholics have always beat the Jews.

SILVERMAN: So, for now, CatholicTV has the field all to itself, hoping that if they can capture the eyeballs of viewers, the hearts and souls will follow.

Art Silverman, NPR News.

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