In a classic Seinfeld episode, Elaine has developed a new set of friends that she is starting to prefer over her usuals—Jerry, George and Kramer. Her main new friend, “Kevin,” who is a “Bizarro World” parallel to Jerry, seems better to her in every way.
To indicate why, Elaine says, “Jerry, they read!” Jerry said, “We read too.” Elaine says “Yes, but they read books (not just comics). Books, Jerry, books.”
We have a lot of us reading these days. We read tweets, blog posts, social posts and headlines. But are we reading deeply enough?
In 2009, author and pastor John Piper wrote these words:
“I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and others. One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
“The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.”
I’m here to suggest—11 years later—that Piper’s prognostications have come true. Social media has weakened people, without much upside.
I am also here to suggest it’s no accident that God gave us His Word in book form. While Christians can and should share the Gospel through all communications forms (e.g. oral, video, media missions, art), there is something especially powerful about books.
That’s why I’m suggesting, in order to grow as a Christian, and to fight the cultural pull away from books, that today, you put down your phone (yes, even this blog post) and find a good book to read. See what God can do in your life through a good book—and of course through the Good Book.
In the end, I’ll agree with Elaine that this is truly important. Books, Jerry, books!