The New York Times recently ran an article, “Turn the Page, Spur the Brain,” that presented empirical findings showing that reading to children, even infants, was crucial for brain development. They found that exposing children to a video or a picture short-circuited the child’s imagination. One expert said: “They’re not having to imagine the story [for themselves]; it’s just being fed to them.” Another pointed out that children who were exposed to reading “showed significantly more activity in the areas of the brain that process visual association, even though the child was listening to a story and could not see any pictures.” In short, verbal communication makes your mind and heart do the work of grasping and imagining the story for yourself. Images tend to feed you what some other person’s imagination has created.
I am not denigrating visual arts in general. But this simple article about reading to children supports an ancient Protestant understanding about the power of the Word to capture our hearts with the truth in a way nothing else can. 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 4:6 say, remarkably, that right now by faith we can “behold the glory” of Christ. And this beholding is linked to the Spirit’s work in our hearts as the Word of God is read and heard (2 Corinthians 3:12-16).
For years I thought that God could be active in my life through the Spirit and that the Bible was a book I had to obey if God was going to come in. I now realize that Bible is the way that, through the Spirit, God is active in my life.
The preachers at Redeemer this month will be leading the congregation to consider this topic, so culturally and personally critical to us all.