In 1985, just having moved back to Arlington from college with a wife, a baby, a degree, and a 300 baud modem for my Apple 2C, I am delighted to learn that the Fort Worth Star Telegram offers an online news service, StarText, practically free. Everything about it mesmerizes me: after an audible techno-raucous modem-handshake, green text trapses character-by-character across a 9-inch CRT monitor, providing news stories almost the moment staff and volunteers write them. I am surprised more people are not interested. But it is text-based, attracting relatively few subscribers. Even when speeds increase, interest does not.
Eight years later, the World Wide Web changes everything—interest soars, sites multiply exponentially, computer sales skyrocket. Mosaic introduces the ability to display pictures with text. (No, it is not just about racy images.) Any visual will do. People who would not turn on a computer at work in 1992 are spending upwards from $2,000 to get one the next year so they can see their organization’s home page with a color banner and a stock graphic.
We love to see. “A picture is worth a thousand words” knows no notable rejoinder because there is something true about it. Skeptics say “show me.” And I don’t want someone else to describe the night sky to me; I want to go outside, look up, and see it.
As much better as pictures are than text, so much better are the greater gifts’ invisible objects than all we see. As Paul says it, hope for what we do not see is our refuge from what we do: “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8). Peter shows faith and love to those who otherwise only see suffering: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1).
Glistening or glowering, “the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4). No wonder, then, that images are forbidden those who follow the eternal God, and that text is the only substance of the message he provides. If the most attractive things of the world are seen, then “this light momentary affliction” must be “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
To a week attending the sometimes slow scrolling but eternal and greater message and truth of God.