Monday, June 15, 2020

Week 8 - A means, not an end...

The next few weeks Tozer’s material will focus on the functionality, the purpose, the benefit of good books. Speed reading techniques, memorization, even quantity are all touched on this week as he expresses doubt that any of these could be a significant part of any reading program. The bottom line, for Tozer, is that any published material is only a tool, "a means", for better or for worse. The material we read can be of great benefit, to the scientific community, the faith community, and to general society. But so too, it can easily become an opiate. Many of us have friends and acquaintances who consider “having read” a particular book to be something of an achievement. These folks are quick to point out how they understand the celebrity/politician/situation better because of the book. But one needs to ask how we see them engaging to build a better church, to address a needful situation, or change their behavior as a result. We need to ask, "how has this book changed your life for the better? What do you do differently as a result of having read it?"

And so to we must ask ourselves: "How does our reading help us advance our profession for the sake of Christ? How does our reading change our living to become more Christ-like?" Some reading, of necessity, is appropriately speedy. I often do what I call a “grad reading” of a text or tome to access whether it is worthy of a deeper digestion. But that is a means to an end as Tozer points out. A book is just that – a means – a means of learning, or growing, of maturing, of changing, of equipping. So the question I tend to ask myself before pickig up a book is "how will this next book be the means to change in my life?"

I am currently reading through the Barbour Publishing

“Heroes of the Faith”series of missionary biographies. I read them as a reminder to me of the great men and women who have gone before me, as an encouragement to my faith that I do not tread this path alone, as a stimulation for the call I seek in retirement. A book that is of value only begins its work when we close its pages.

I also place a date in the front of each book I read (mo/yr) if it is worthy of reconsideration. And only the books that receive the dating stay on my shelves. If it’s not worth reading again, it really wasn’t worth reading the first time. With this, I have paired my library down significantly. It’s not a matter of whether or not I might read it again, but whether or not I know I will read that one again.

Now having said all of this I will admit I have a strong prejudice in my reading. I want adventure. I want to be challenged, intellectually to an extent, theologically to a degree, but mostly to change my life. I want to the book to so move me that, when I am finished, I will want to trade everything I own to be more like “that.” That is the lesson I want to learn, the challenge I want presented, the purpose for my reading.

As per Tozer, I also memorize snippets of Scripture and some great hymns to company me through the day. And I read to expand my linguistic understanding and ability to express myself. But that's getting into next weeks lesson.

How about you? What was the last book you read that "changed your living?"

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