Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Yesterday I spent almost nine hours writing a one-page letter, a letter related to William Short’s 1854 Diary.
Why should a short letter take so long to write?
I find that’s often true, it takes me longer to write a brief piece. On a good writing day I can whip out ten pages of first draft text for a 300+ page book. Yet once it took me two days to produce a Garage Sale sign!
If anything impresses me about the Gospel writers, it’s the succinct quality of their writing. They say much in few words. Not verbose like me.
I think their confidence roots their conciseness. They knew what they wanted to say and said it well. I fear being misunderstood so I elaborate and repeat and explain and illustrate and reiterate and… (Besides, I love to hear myself talk).
For instance, Luke tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in just seven verses; yet other writers recount that tale in whole books.
Once I attended a class where the teacher read the Good Samaritan, then asked each student to pick a character in the story and identify with that character. Tell what the character saw, what they thought, how they acted, what they felt…
Some students identified with the mugging victim, left broken and bleeding by the road. Others identified with the religious people who passed by on the other side of the road. Some identified with the Samaritan being helpful. Some thought of themselves as the inn keeper offering long-term care.
I, of course, identified with the ass trudging along doing the donkey-work of the kingdom as a bystander to the main action.
Interestingly enough, nobody identified with the robbers, although who hasn’t run roughshod over others in our lives and left them bleeding in our wake.
I wonder what Luke would have made of that?
Of course there is a danger of being too concise. Matthew 25 tells about a wedding feast and I’ve heard of one preacher expounding that passage who challenged his congregation: “Will you stay awake with the wise virgins, or will you sleep with the foolish virgins”?