I pray this prayer based on Gen.1:27: “God made humankind in his image.” The origins of people are in God, so who could better help us write to demonstrate humanness? And why do we need to write with a spirit of humanness? The answer lies in the current landscape of life and communication.
Technology forms an amazing infrastructure for communication. It gives us access to more information more quickly than ever before. Brief texts are invaluable in doing life. Our flagging memories can be supported by google or Siri. Facebook enables “Happy Birthdays” to reach us from huge numbers of friends. Social media helps writers find more ways of reaching larger audiences; it helps readers find what they most like to read. And there is more technology to come: computers which can access the combined intelligence of the entire world, virtual reality, networking cars who read to us as we ride.
On the other hand, technology faces us with an increasingly depersonalized world. Robots send emails, writing aps help journalists compose articles. Stubborn advertisements get past filters to demand our attention. We are lost in so much data that we don’t have time to do our own thinking or interact with others around us. Interruptions keep our short-term memory from congealing into long-term thought. Google-translate and auto-correct cause hilarious misunderstandings. In a recent Instagram post, my daughter joked about a security hoop she had to jump through. “What irony! A robot is asking me to prove that I’m not a robot.”
Many people are feeling disconnected, lonely, anxious, or depressed. Social media, meant to connect people, can make people feel inferior; the fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real. How many feel stupid or inferior next to the air-brushed pictures posted on Facebook?
What is at risk is our sense of identity as human beings. As futurist Gerd Leonhard reminds us, technology cannot deliver happiness—happiness cannot be automated. Technology cannot answer our need for relationship, to express ourselves to others and hear their response, to live a purposeful life, to create light-hearted jokes and enjoy meals. In other words, technology cannot be our friend or even demonstrate to us how to be human.
But that is something God can do—and he can use our writing to help. It turns out that fully human writing is exactly what a technologized world calls out for. And Christian writing can contribute in a very tangible way.
Our faith values being human; human beings are priceless because God made them in his image. In some sense, every person is like God, the Maker and Lord of Creation. Everyone is a gift, “God’s handiwork, his workmanship, his masterpiece, his art work” (Eph. 2:10). Christians do not have a small, insignificant message—we treasure a remarkable, bedrock understanding about the greatness and dignity of human beings.
So we pray, “Lord, fill my writing with humanness.”
It does not matter what we write. It matters that we write as Christians. A Christians write in a way that values people. The message need not be forced, just be genuinely human, love God, and strive for excellence. The world needs good writing; a place apart from the frenetic technological swirl of pictures and games and action. Our writing is powerful when we value being human as we write. Our words can demonstrate what it means to be human, to show relationship and compassion, imagination and ingenuity in action.
In her July blog, Sarah Hamaker blogged about being “an ordinary writer, writing ordinary books.” Now, I hardly think Sarah is ordinary in any sense of that word, and I don’t think you would believe it either, if you knew her incredible drive and the beauty and simplicity of her writing. But her “ordinary” words in her “ordinary” blog are balm for our writing heart.
Being ordinary writers is exactly what is needed. Our words can play a role we never imagined.
“Lord, fill my writing with humanness.”