Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It Is Written

So does anyone ever actually write anything anymore? Not type, but write - in longhand? I believe I read recently that some educators were recommending that cursive writing no longer be taught in school. Could that be true? 

I "wrote" [actually I "typed"] a letter to a friend the other day. I knew it was going to be a long letter and I didn't feel like writing it out. I hate to make mistakes and then have to cross out words. You don't have to do that with word processors. So, we tweet, text, post on Facebook and comment on blogs; we email, communicate online with people we know and people we don't know. Handwritten notes, even thank you notes? Please! An email will do. Some people even have their names printed on Christmas cards. They don't even include a personal handwritten "Merry Christmas".

I thought about this recently because I'm in a Bible study on the New Testament book of James and one of our assignments over the course of the study is to write out in longhand the entire book of James. Now it's only 5 relatively short chapters. It's not like we were asked to do this exercise with the Psalms or anything! I do a little bit each week. I'm not rushing, but I'm not exactly being meticulous either, and yes, I have crossed out one mistake already! Rats!! 

What has made this exercise especially interesting is the fact that there is an exhibit in town called "Passages". Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, this is an exhibit tracing the history of the Bible as it exists today. It includes such antiquities as Torah scrolls, early Biblical papyri and manuscripts. Highlights of the exhibit are a fragment of the Dead Sea Scroll, some of the earliest surviving scriptures in Greek manuscripts, a Wycliffe New Testament and early rare translations from many countries prior to the presence of movable typeset printing in the west. There is a full-scale reproduction of Gutenberg's printing press, a first edition of "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis, a handwritten letter by Martin Luther, and many other manuscripts, rare books and first edition Bibles.

Equally fascinating is the fact that the exhibit includes interactive rooms from many different periods of history where young and old alike can try their hand at scribal writing, copying scripture by candlelight; and typesetting. [This is a brief overview of the Passages exhibit and I encourage you to check it out on-line if you would like to know more.] 

I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibit and I'm even more excited for my grandchildren to see it. I want them to know the painstaking effort and commitment that went into recording and preserving the spoken word before there was such a thing as a printing press, much less a computer. With any luck, maybe cursive writing will be taught and practiced for at least another generation or two. 

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