I love technology. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are vital tools in any ones line up. In fact, my life is largely paperless thanks to Evernote. Yet, over the past week I’ve decided to move much of my writing to the “old school” format of pen and paper. This is in large part to Jonathan Edwards. One of the things that amazed me about this man is that he wrote all the time. Here are three things I learned from him and are trying to implement in my own study:
1. He Thought with His Pen in Hand
I’ve noticed that the majority of my thinking stays up in my head and thus unremembered. I think a lot of great thoughts (sometimes!), but none of it gets recorded. I want to learn to record these thoughts. Although I love the convenience of technology, it is often not worth the price of distraction. As I’m doing deep writing an email pops up or I get side tracked on another task. This is one of the reasons why I am going with pen and paper for deep thoughtful personal writing. I can type much faster than I can write. However, writing with a pen in hand forces me to slow down and think. Because of that, I see how my thoughts seem much deeper and more focused.
2. He Had the Freedom of Creativity
In the area of theology I have a great fear of unintentionally being a heretic. Creativity and theology don’t often go well together and it can be a quick recipe for a disaster. Yet, Jonathan Edwards was an open thinker. He was willing to freely explore deep doctrines like the Trinity from unique perspectives. In his personal notebooks he would write every thought and had the freedom to explore deep truths. I want that same freedom to explore deep doctrines privately in my notebooks.
3. He Recorded All His Thoughts on Scripture
Edwards had an extensive system of notebooks to record all his thoughts. One of those notebooks was a blank Bible, in which Edwards fashioned himself in making a super large margin Bible to write all his thoughts in his Bible. Another notebook he had was his miscellaneous notebook, in which he would record random theological thoughts. This is a model that I want to imitate. I want one notebook where I can record all my thoughts on the Bible and theology. I wanted to create my own journal with just biblical exegesis and interpretation.
Although I’ve just been doing this old school method for about a week, I have already seen the Lord use it in my life. Writing with a pen and hand and electronics off has allowed me to think much more deeply. I’ve been reading through the book of 2 Samuel and some of the truths God has shown me is amazing (I might share some of it later on this week in a blog). I believe part of this is that I’m slowing down and listening much more carefully, without the buzz of electronic distraction.
I don’t know if you were like me and thought that pen and paper were too archaic for practical use. I still do a lot of electronic writing for blogs, my personal journal, and sermon writing yet for deep reflection I’ve switched to pen and paper. I’m glad I did. There is something about the slow sensory experience of tactile writing that spurs some of my best thinking. Maybe you should give it a shot and start thinking with a pen in hand.
What about you? What advantages have pen and paper brought to your thinking? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!