A new study by the National Endowment for the Arts has found a big decline in reading among young people. I lament this decline of reading actual books, but I disagree that young people are not reading at all, as if literacy is becoming obsolete. Every time someone logs onto the internet he or she has to read. Without reading, there can be no Facebook socializing. Text-messaging requires reading. Arguably more letter-writing and letter-reading is going on than ever before in the form of e-mail correspondence.
The problem is that online reading tends to be in little bites. Books require–and create–long attention spans, with long chains of reasoning and sustained acts of the imagination. The new media encourages that kind of minimalistic condensation of discourse exemplified in the kind of spelling used in txt mgs typed on a tiny screen with your thumbs.
But reading is not going to go away. And reading books cannot go away for Christians, since they know the God who communicates Himself to us not through visions or experiences or feelings but precisely through a Book.