Socrates: For, to some degree, I fear that writing has a quality that is truly like painting. For the offspring of the latter stand as though living but if one were to ask them something, they remain nobly silent. Now words also do the same thing: you think that they would speak intelligently, but if you ask something, wanting to learn from the speakers [i.e. the words], they always declare the exact same thing. And whenever you actually [lit. once] write something, every word rolls about everywhere equally to those who understand and those who don’t; and they do not know to whom they should and shouldn’t speak. And if they are wronged or abused, they never have a father to help them. For they are able neither to defend nor to help themselves. (Plato, Phaedrus 275d) 
As might be surmised from the above quotation, I am somewhat apprehensive about contributing to this blog. Or any blog, for that matter. One can only imagine how Socrates would feel about the (sometimes flippant) ease with which so many people today publish their lives and thoughts for the world to see. One regularly hears stories about people who are embarrassed, or even fired, for the things they put in writing. There’s even an entire web site devoted to preserving these “fails” from Facebook. Needless to say (though I will anyway), I don’t want to be that guy.
Writings are always in need of an interpreter, but they don’t always get a competent or friendly one, as Socrates notes. Any experienced writer has stories of being misinterpreted due to the inherent (and much lauded in post-modern circles) ambiguity of language. Writings carry no tone of voice, no facial expressions, no body language, no context. The real irony, though, is that they are always written with those things in mind. Thus (my love of writing notwithstanding) any post that I contribute will be released with a sigh of resignation that once out of my pen, the ink can never return, so to speak.
I wonder if God, in his personal divine council, let the same little sigh escape his lips when he decided to preserve his word in writing. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he sent Jesus, the “living Word of knowledge” (to take a line from Plato out of context; Phaedrus 276a), to help us interpret his words. Ironically, the stories about Jesus are writings too.
Christians revere their scriptures, which are precisely writings. (The word scripture is from the Latin scriptum, meaning “a piece of writing” for which the Greek equivalent is γραφή [graphé].) They are in need of interpretation in exactly the same way as this blog post…not that I’m equating my writing with the word of God. They “[roll] about everywhere equally to those who understand and those who don’t.” (Of course, it’s always easy to identify those in the latter category since you, dear reader, are always in the former.) They are words written with a specific tone of voice and context in mind of which we can inevitably recover only a little. They are writings that have at times been wronged and abused, pressed into the service of something counter to their character. Thus, while Socrates’ lament for writing is a caution for writers, it can also be taken as warning to readers. It is a call for gentleness in reading the words of others, including God (and the contributors of this blog!). It is a call for Socratic ignorance, humility, and the willingness to genuinely listen to what (the) writings have to say.Ben Edsall
 This translation is my own, made in consultation with that of Benjamin Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato. 5 volumes, 3rd ed. (London: Oxford University Press).