I witnessed a ritual sacrifice in the middle of a cool, third-wave coffee shop the other day. It’s the sort of place that attracts herds of bearded hipsters and where they brew your coffee by hand, one cup at a time. I was sitting at a long row of benches against the wall, watching the crowd as they ordered, mingled, and eventually collected their meticulously crafted drinks from a stern-faced barista wearing an ironic t-shirt and a fedora.

A guy in his twenties, wearing skinny jeans, a plaid shirt, and a beanie (which might as well have been the clientele’s uniform) came in carrying a heavy book. It looked like a nice academic volume—hardcover, black cloth binding, nice paper. He ordered and sat at a table near the middle of the shop, scanning his phone while waiting for his drink to come up at the bar. After collecting it, he returned to the table near the center of the room and began his rather embarrassing and earnest religious display.

He was arranging his book and his latte so that he could take a picture of them with his phone. He spent five minutes doing this, and I assure you that although five minutes might seem like a very long time to spend doing something like this, I’m certain that it was five minutes because I clocked him (which says something about me, I know). He tried capturing the image with the book on its side, next to the latte. Then he tried a few with the spine open to hold the book upright, the latte in front of it.

He wasn’t finished. He then attempted several shots with the coffee cup perched on top of the book…Eventually, he started taking images with the book in his hand, including a few attempts without the latte at all. I began to worry about his latte growing cold and the foam turning dry and ugly…

Finally, he set his phone down and began to drink his latte. Then he opened the book. Now here’s the best part. I swear he looked at the book for at most forty-five seconds. He flipped it open, thumbed a page or two, his eyes blank and disinterested, and then closed it and pulled out his phone again to see what kind of response the image got.

A moment or two later, my wife texted me. I alerted her about the keen observations I was making in the coffee shop. She told me to get back to writing. Then she asked which shop I was in. I told her, and moments later, she texted me the image the guy had posted to Instagram, which blew my mind. “You’re like Batman,” I said. She took this for the high praise it was.

Only when I saw the image, though, did I notice the title of the book. It was John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Word of God. Perhaps it would have been slightly more ironic if the book had been Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death…but this one was nearly perfect: a book about the primacy of God’s Word as a prop in a social media post.

Taken from Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World by Mike Cosper. Copyright (c) 2017, pp.33-35. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

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