Writing a blog, you never know where inspiration will come from. At least I don’t. Just this morning I saw this photo, posted by a Facebook friend in Poland. What a visual statement about our times!
All five of the people seated are reading, but what’s the guy on the right using? For people of my generation, that’s a silly question. But in centuries to come, might sociologists, anthropologists – and even educators – be discussing the relative merits of that antiquated communication device, that thing called the “book”?
Imagine the conversation: “The book was a simple tool, really. It had no on-off switch, required no batteries, nor could it be recharged. When you were finished reading you…well, you put it down, often never to pick it up again, and you picked up another…book!” “Really? How quaint. What primitive times those were!”
If you were to look in my family room, you’d see I’ve placed great value on simple, non-electronic instruments known as books. Even though I do much of my reading these days on computers, a tablet (in my case, an iPad), and now a smart phone, I’ll never lose my deep affection for real books. Part of it’s sensory: They have a distinctive feel, the paper and ink, the gloss on the cover, the heft, especially of classic literary tomes. Then there’s the smell, even of musty books that have been around for a long time; it gives them character. And the sound, the rustle of pages as they turn, the satisfied “thump” books make when you close them.
No question, digital books and other publications on tablets and smart phones are convenient, and add no additional weight after being downloaded. I recall many times lugging books in a briefcase to keep me company while traveling.
But there’s something about a book, holding it, carrying it, opening it time and again as you advance along the journey the author has created for you. Somehow, turning pages as you proceed toward your destination – the last page – allows you to bond with the book, sometimes resulting in a cherished, lifelong friendship.
As time passes, I realize, I’ll be a member of a shrinking minority. Increasingly, people will know books as something you retrieve with the touch of a screen, and read with the deft flip of a fingertip. No matter – as long as people continue to read, I guess it doesn’t matter what media are used for accessing the books.
And I hope that, despite increasingly sophisticated technology, people will always be drawn to that timeless, most treasured book of all, the Bible. Whether in paper or visible digitally, I’m convinced it’s the one resource for experiencing life as God intended.