We live in a society glued to our smart phones, and though I have yet to own a smart phone, I can be glued to my tablet, as well. There are avid readers, particularly it seems to me of fictional novels, finding many good stories from creative, interesting writers. But beyond that, I’m not so confident that we’re a book reading society, or even a good reading society at all, given at least one study. I love good books, but given my lifestyle and sometimes lack of discipline, I hardly think I’m holding up my end in reading.
One of the thoughts that has been recurring to me a bit is my need to “read up.” By that I mean I need to read things which can impact my life for good, which can stretch my thinking and challenge me to grow in many ways.
Of course I continue in the Book, the Bible. You can’t read up any higher than that. But to think that we can stop there, at least one person I know seems to suggest that, I think is to deny what the Book itself says. Paul talked about the scrolls and parchments, possibly I suppose referring to some scripture, and likely referring to books other than scripture. Paul’s own learning was not only evident then, but is evident to us who are far removed from that time. And teachers are given to the church. A good part of teaching can be writing. We are blessed today with a good number of evangelical and other Christian writers such as N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Lois Tverberg, Philip Yancey, Marilynne Robinson, Karen Spears Zacharias, Allan R. Bevere, John Walton, Tremper Longman III, Sharon Brown and many many others. Not to mention all the great writers of the past, who remain on the radar because their writings have stood the test of time, like Augustine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Day, Julian of Norwich and again, many many more. And this mentions only Christian writers. There are plenty of other writers worthy of being read, who may not be Christian in their writings, or Christian in their faith, but from whom we can learn much.
And so my challenge to myself is to work at “reading up.” Continuing to read scripture (with some listening of it being read online), but working away at reading little by little. Following I think the wise counsel of another fine writer, Eugene Peterson, who encouraged readers to read less, and read slower. That’s what I’ve begun to do both from scripture, and hopefully whittling away, little by little in other books as well. It is best to read books one might want to reread, though many books can surely impact us for good which we’ll read only once.
Reading for pleasure, I know I’ve missed in my thoughts here. Ultimately one always derives pleasure from good reading, even if in the process it can become a bit tedious and long. Of course the best writing carries us along. Scripture itself unfolding for us the reason we exist and are to live in and through the good news in Jesus.