I’ve been reading a memoir on the craft of writing by Stephen King called On Writing. I have enjoyed the few King books that I’ve read; he’s not, however, one of my favorite fiction authors. His dark and creepy style is entertaining, but not something I ever want to emulate in my own writing. Nonetheless, the man knows his stuff.
Stephen King’s definition of writing is beautiful, and something that can help us as we think about the ancient writing of the biblical authors. It’s only one word: telepathy.
Look––here’s a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium. In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.
Do we see the same thing? We’d have to get together and compare nots to make absolutely sure, but I think we do.
The most interesting thing here isn’t even the carrot-munching rabbit in the cage, but the number on its back. Not a six, not a four, not nineteen-point-five. It’s an eight. This is what we’re looking at, and we all see it. I didn’t tell you. You didn’t ask me. I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room…except we are together. We’re close.
We’re having a meeting of the minds.
I sent you a table with a red cloth on it, a cage, a rabbit, and the number eight in blue ink. You got them all, especially that blue eight. We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy.
Twenty years ago Stephen King wrote about this bunny in the cage. And yet our minds are momentarily connected in some weird way that can’t quite be explained. We are, in a sense, having a conversation as if there are not hundreds of miles and two decades between us. And it’s not the power of King’s words that make this possible. It’s not the beauty of his rhetoric. His words mean nothing if I, the reader, don’t do anything with them. Telepathy in writing is only possible thanks to the power of the human imagination.
This imaginative telepathy takes place outside of physical time and space. When we turn our attention to the Bible writers, many more decades and many more miles stand between us and them than between us and King. Not to mention language barriers, cultural barriers, lack of context… ad infinitum. Yet, despite these barriers, we are still having a telepathic conversation with the Apostles, the prophets, the psalmists, and the patriarchs. As we read their words, we are not merely absorbing information. Our minds are intermingling with the minds of the saints. As we read their words, our minds think their thoughts. Our hearts feel their emotions. We have the potential of living out their faith.
Reading the Bible is important. Even if we’ve read it cover to cover three or four times, we must never stop reading it. Because the more we read, the more God shapes us into his people. The more we read, the more the biblical writers transform our minds through their words. The more we read, the more we hide the words and worldview of the Bible deep within our hearts.
We read the Bible to learn. We read the Bible to understand more about who God is. But we also read the Bible to engage in telepathy.