What are dead trees good for?
At least once a week, some young whippersnapper (or a cranky elder statesman) prophesies the doom of all the ancient and venerable independent Mormon publications. I think they are wrong, and I will show you why.
A few days ago, we had a very interesting discussion based on a personal essay about one couple’s experience of loss in fertility treatment. We touched on some of the theological issues surrounding ensoulment, the politics of declaring when life begins, and some of the sociological difficulties around discussions of this topic. All in about a couple thousand words. There’s nothing wrong with that. The discussion was mostly intelligent and constructive, there were useful insights shared. Life is short, we want to communicate efficiently–for many purposes, the executive summary will suffice.
But not for one purpose, which may be the most important one. God commands us to love with all our minds, as well as our hearts. All our minds. To me, that sounds like work. A lot of work, in fact, the kind of work that generates long, footnoted, carefully edited papers like this one. It’s true that we live in an age of multi-tasking, bullet-point lists, attention-grabbing graphics–we are all, whether we want to be or not, masters of the quick, the shallow, the superficial. But our God is not a soundbite God, and he wants our entire, sustained attention. Dead trees, footnotes, and the Chicago Manual of Style are good for learning to slow down and pay attention.