First of all, I love real books, so I knew that Kindle was going to be inferior. I knew I would miss holding my book with a cradled bend in its pages, perfectly spooned in my hands. I knew it would be difficult to give up paper, with its glorious smells and textures. I knew that Kindle would be lacking in intimacy. But I was willing to temporarily sacrifice all that I knew for $4.99. You see, my daughter received a Kindle for Christmas, and ever since then I’ve been tempted with the cheap deals constantly posted on the internet. Free downloads in exchange for reviews on my blog, $1.99 offers, $2.99…all in the click of a button, I can immediately be delivered what I desire. But I was fighting off the temptation, that is, until yesterday’s deal. That’s right, all it took was a carrot waved before my eyes on Tim Challies’ A La Carte of a book I had been meaning to read. I could download it for just $4.99. I took the bait.
So this morning I asked my daughter to show me how to use the thing, and I took it with me to Bible Study. I go straight to church on Tuesday mornings from dropping my kids off at school. I have about an hour and fifteen minutes before class to pray, go over my lesson again, make copies, and gather my thoughts. But sometimes I still have an extra ten minutes or so, and that is where Kindle came in. With all my preconceived notions and snotty biases for real books, I was still shocked by how insipid my date was. He looks all clever in his black tuxedo, but he’s like hiring an escort rather than a real date. You quickly realize this when you have to turn him on. Immediately, the battery power is displayed right next to the time. Time? I don’t want to look at the stinken’ time when I’m reading! Battery power? Now I have to be nervous about whether you’re going to last through my book? He only puts out what you charge him for.
I am a visual person. I knew this would be an obstacle for me, but I didn’t realize my own dependencies. Oh bookie, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. So I click on my book, and wonder if there is an image of the cover anywhere on this thing. Can’t find it. How can I read a book without looking at her face first? But, I continue only to realize that every page looks the same. There are no flaws or flecks on the pages, and, horror of horrors, no way to tell if I’m reading the front or the back of a page. I didn’t realize how important this was to me, but I was disgusted. All the pages are one-sided! There is no left and right. Just right! I never need to turn my head. What a bunch of malarkey.
How am I supposed to remember where I read something to go back to without a visual snap shot of whether I read it on the left side or right side? I guess I have to remember page numbers. Oh wait, I see no page numbers. Seriously? Instead, it tells me that I am 8% of the way through the book. Kindle said that for three pages! Wait a cotton picking minute, do I have to do math to figure out how many pages are in this book? This is all wrong. And forget about flipping through the pages if you want to go back to something. Everything looks the same. I felt like I was lost in dreary Flobbertown. I know what you’re thinking—just highlight. Well that all sounds good, but every time I try to highlight, the page would turn instead. I felt like my grandma trying to use my cell phone.
But it gets worse. When I read, and I’m halfway through the right page, I like to “begin the turn.” I run my finger down the back edge of the page until it is ready to turn. But Kindle is all mechanical—reading without foreplay. It is a completely unromantic experience. It stinks to go see a really good movie with a really bad date. And this date has an ulterior motive. As my daughter was showing me how to work the thing, I noticed two different advertisements on the screen. Advertisements? Really? (Insert Ralphie facial expression from A Christmas Story–a crummy commercial!) I don’t know when they show themselves, because I didn’t get any in my ten minutes. I’m assuming that’s because the WiFi wasn’t on. But I know they’re in there somewhere. Eww.
What’s really driving me nuts is that I have been so distracted by Kindle that I just wrote an entire article on a theology blog that has nothing to do with theology. But, given my propensity to allegorize everything, I do have a theological takeaway point to offer. While I will continue to read my digital book, and although my daughter rolled her eyes at me when I gave her my list of complaints (and corrected my folly on the issues like page numbers), I still realized something new about my love affair with reading: You gotta give me more than words. Kindle offers the same words that a real date…I mean book…does, but there’s just no relationship between us. That brings me to God’s living Word. His Word actually has the power to create what it speaks! It is a “discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” How amazing is that? “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to that eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” The header for Hebrews 4:11-13 in my Bible is titled, The Word Discovers Our Condition. Whoa!
Theology is so much more than acquiring knowledge about God. It is a love affair. Let me ask you this, on the day of your wedding were you satisfied with all the knowledge you had about your spouse? Of course not. It was just beginning. But you continue to learn throughout a relationship of love. The amazing love of God not only teaches us more about himself in his Word, but it also teaches us about our own selves while it continually points us to our Redeemer Jesus Christ. All the while, God’s Word is transforming the hearts of his bride. We are being made into the image of our groom. Now that’s a powerful kiss!