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Beyond the cloud

There can be no substitute for the written word

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I am thinking about written words, as they’re going out of style. I know they’re going out of style because in Brooklyn I ransacked my millennial daughter’s long, dog-leggy apartment for paper and pen to leave her a note, and ended up fishing an Aldi receipt and crayon from the bottom of my purse.

I know they’re going out of style because they killed cursive in schools, and my Gen Z grandchildren are unable to read the framed Declaration of Independence and preamble to the Constitution mounted on the wall ascending my staircase. I believe that was murder, not accidental.

Are we counting on the “cloud”? Franklin Graham isn’t. At the May 22 National Religious Broadcasters convention, the evangelist warned Christians to build parallel data storage structures, as his Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Denver, and not to entrust our words and info to Amazon, which hates us.

Tucker Carlson contributes his own idea: “Don’t throw away your hard copy books, because they are the enduring repository … because they can’t be disappeared because they exist physically.”

Sorry, but they can be disappeared. German students disappeared disfavored books in 1817, choosing the ironic 300th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door. The Nazis disappeared books at their own grand book-burning event on May 10, 1933.

The aforementioned deposed Fox newsman also said, when asked what is the biggest cultural change in Americans’ everyday lives: “The lack of information. The core promise of the internet was as much information as we’ve ever had at your fingertips, and the result has been a centralization of information (this is deliberate, needless to say, but not noticed by most people) that results in more controlled information. … So a lot of information just is not available.”

Clouds are cool. God sent a cloud in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21). But when it came to preserving testimony, He favored the written word: “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against … all the nations” (Jeremiah 36:2). It won’t be a cloud but a scroll that the Lamb opens seal by seal to unleash our destiny (Revelation 5:1-8). And on Judgment Day we will confront a book, not an iPhone: “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12).

George Orwell saw it coming in 1949: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered” (Nineteen Eighty-Four).

But God is adaptable. When a certain king of Israel took the scroll of the Lord and sliced three or four columns at a time in pique, throwing them into the fireplace, God simply had Jeremiah write the prophecy down again on another parchment (Jeremiah 36:23-28).

In the late 1940s God used a Bedouin shepherd boy searching for a goat near the Dead Sea to stumble into a desert cave and give the world the oldest extant Old Testament manuscripts confirming the Bible’s historicity.

In 1866 He used a 26-year-old Welshman named Robert Jermain Thomas on an American trade ship on Korea’s Taedong River, who had arrived to evangelize the “hermit kingdom.” In his last act before being summarily executed, Thomas hands off a Bible to his executioners, and a government official named Pak Yung Sik wallpapers his house with its pages. Pak later sells his house to one Choe Chi Ryang. People come from miles around to read his wall, and a church is established in Pyongyang (Chosen for Choson, Stella Price, 2007).

And hats off to the Irish monks in the Dark Ages who furiously copied and recopied Bible manuscripts for posterity, as fast as the Huns and the Visigoths could torch them.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her columns have been compiled into three books including Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides near Philadelphia.


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