a lost art

It struck me as I finished penning the last letter today. I really am participating in a lost art. You see every week I try to write at least two hand-written letters. I know that may seem bizarre in this information age of email, instant messaging and text, but I think there is still something special about the written word. It seems weird to think about how technology that has only been around for 2o years or so could so vastly shape the way things are done. Think about it, without the written word there would be no Shakespeare, no C.S. Lewis, no Steinbeck (to name a few) and yet that which composed all of these works is becoming more and more extinct. Just to prove a point, I was recently handed a couple of pieces of paper to look over and help proof/edit. What should have taken probably about two minutes ended up taking me about ten because the script was written in cursive and I hadn’t looked at cursive hand writing in I don’t know how long. I am not saying that the current information age is dumbing us down, but if the shoe fits.

To extend it to another example, if it weren’t for the hand-written word, the Bible would not exist. So often we are spoiled in today’s world. If there is a certain verse I want to read or a text I want to look up in scripture I simply jump online and I am armed with all sorts of ways to examine the Bible. And yet, the Bible was written very differently than in the fashion I am able to disect and written with great intent to those audiences. Paul himself said in Galatians 6:11, “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” I don’t think Paul’s intent was boasting with this statement, but rather intensity. I have written all of this for you. And I know how “painstaking” it is to write letters today, think about how painstaking it might have been while you were imprisoned awaiting a death sentence from the Roman empire.

Maybe this post is simply a plea for simplicity. I think sometimes we have become over-indulged in our everything is easy and in front of us culture. Why should I write a letter, place it in an envelope, pick up a stamp, drop it in the post and wait a few days when I can just text someone and it arrives immediately? I guess it all stems from the culture of instant gratification. Maybe I am speaking out a foregone time, but there is just something about opening a hand-written letter. Maybe because I know that there was time and energy spent in moving the pen that isn’t used in every day communications anymore. And maybe that is all that matters.

So maybe today you can pick up a piece of paper and scribble out a letter to an old friend. Maybe you could write a love letter to a spouse or significant other. But whatever the occasion may be, let’s not lose this art.

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