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Reading about Reading

April 11, 2012

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14 

I have been reading a book about reading. Yeah, I know… it’s a little like thinking about thinking. It sucks you into a vortex, swirls you around at dizzying speeds, and then spits you out more confused than before. Still, it has caused me to marvel at God’s handiwork and prompted me to share a few random thoughts with you.

The book, Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene, says this about reading:

“Upon entering the retina, a word is split up into a myriad of fragments, as each part of the visual image is recognized by a distinct photoreceptor. Starting from this input, the real challenge consists in putting the pieces back together in order to decode what letters are present, to figure out the order in which they appear, and finally to identify the word.”

Now, that is an incredibly complicated process, and yet, if you just read that paragraph, you have mastered that process. And consider what gifts that process brings! Consider this observation by Francisco De Quevedo:

“Withdrawn into the peace of this desert, along with some books, few but wise, I live in conversation with the deceased, and listen to the dead with my eyes.”

Wow. To hear the words of those long dead and to think their thoughts! Our ability, your ability to read truly is a marvel.

And then consider this comment concerning writing (the inscription of words for the purpose of reading) by Abraham Lincoln:

“Writing – the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye – is the great invention of the world. Great in the astonishing range of analysis and combination which necessarily underlies the most crude and general conception of it – great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and of space; and great, no only in its direct benefits, but greatest help, to all other inventions.”

So, there it is… reading and writing. Miraculously powerful accomplishments made possible by our merciful Creator, the One Who has endowed us with eyes to see, hands to write, and brains to decode. Marvelous!

And then, if we are wise, we will pause for a moment and marvel at the greatest gift of all – that God has eternally encoded His own thoughts, thoughts infinitely greater than our own, and has given them to us, in His written Word, through which we begin to know Him and His holy attributes, and in His Living Word, Jesus Christ, through Whom we know and love Him absolutely. Miracle of miracles!

Well, I won’t go on anymore. I simply hope that, today, in whatever you are reading or writing, you will recognize God’s marvelous gifts to you and will return to Him the praise He so richly deserves.


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