We all need to take this devotional to heart. Remind others that what we read has lasting effects on our lives. This lesson taught in 1885 is still applicable today!
Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg?
(George Everard, “The Importance of Reading” 1885)
Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg? He was just about to put forward his invention of the printing press, and it seemed to him as if an angel came and spoke to him:
“John Gutenberg, you have made your name immortal–but at what a cost! Think well what you are doing! The ungodly are many more than the godly. Your work will but multiply their blasphemies and lies. You have uncovered the bottomless pit–and a swarm of seducing spirits shall henceforth come out and turn earth into Hell. Oh think of millions of souls corrupted by your achievement. See the poison of fiends distilled into the souls of boys and girls, making them old in the experience of sin! See that mother weeping over her depraved son, and that grey-haired father hiding his face from his daughter’s shame. Destroy your press, for it shall be the pander of blasphemy and lust! Destroy it, and forget it! Forbear, by multiplying the resources of the wicked, to make yourself through all ages the partaker of their crimes!”
We are all aware that the dream has had a very sorrowful fulfillment. Amidst the vast amount of printed matter sent forth daily, it is to be feared that the evil sadly exceeds the good. None can tell how the minds of multitudes are corrupted by the publications that they peruse. Therefore, my friend, be careful what you read!
Give heed as to what you read. If you knew that on the table there were poisoned dishes, as well as food that was wholesome and nourishing–you would be on your guard, and touch nothing about which you were doubtful. Just so, exercise wise forethought as to the books and magazines you take up and peruse.
It is true that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” But it is no less true that as a man reads–so very much will he think. Mind, memory, conscience, imagination, will, affection–all will be influenced by that which you read.
The questionable novel, with its picturing of the worst passions of the soul, as is too often the case–ought not to be devoured as if it would leave no bad impression behind. I know quite well, that we all need recreation, but it is not genuine recreation to spend hour after hour pouring over that which is trashy, nonsensical, and worse–and will only unfit you for anything higher and holier.
This is a warning from the past. It has gotten worse since the days when George Everard wrote this.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001