Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Reading in this day and age of entertainment is not popular. Though more reading is done overall in recent years because of the Internet I suppose, yet other pastimes dominate on it, I would think. Not that games or movies and other entertainment are necessarily bad in themselves. I'm beginning to learn to enjoy games much more.

But reading takes us to new places and stirs us in the way of Jesus. Reading stirs us in all kinds of ways in that way. I often find in my reading that I have to press through parts that are tedious or to which I don't connect that well. The rewards are there as I do. There is not much better than sitting or for me, laying on the couch with book in hand and some Mozart or whatever playing in the background. At work I fellowship while I'm working, and on breaks and at lunch lately, I read while I eat. We have a great public library system covering a good portion of our part of the state from which I and my wife Deb order online, and then can walk to our nearby library and pick up when it comes in. Add to that the college libraries in the area, particularly for theology, along with an excellent Christian scholar's bookstore (and more), and we're blessed in this area.

I've been told I read too much. This is by people who either don't read themselves so don't see its value well, or perhaps think I'm reading the wrong things. Of course, as a Christian I believe we need to be first and foremost readers of God's word, Scripture. I've been doing that by listening to the Bible Experience, as well as going over my Bible (and Greek New Testament) at work as I can. We're all different, so some of us will be readers and others not so much so. But we all need to value reading, and not despise it, even if it means reading slowly. Actually the best reading is done slowly I think. John Wesley was known for reading slowly, as he did so on horseback, brilliant mind and learning that he had. So we should take heart and keep building little by little in our reading. Better to get what little we're reading than read in large swaths and get only the gist of it.

And don't measure your reading by what you remember. Often it comes to you as you need it. And reading has its value in its impact. In the end the content in some way has to become your own. A part of your thinking and value and worldview. This requires discernment, and patience, as well as some hard work. And it requires a thirst for knowing what God might want us to know in Jesus. For me that includes all kinds of reading, theoretically. From Christians and non Christians there is much we can learn, much that can be helpful to us, as we remain those committed to God in Christ through the Spirit in community and on mission in this world.

What about your experience and thoughts on reading?


The Wingnut said...

I think I could just as easily stop breathing as reading...

I usually end up purchasing books to read, I haven't been to the library in many years.

Barnes & Noble on 28th has a decent used book section, as does Schuler's.

But Bargain Books can be pretty awesome too, if you look long enough, you'll find great deals.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I hear you, Wingnut. Barnes and Nobles is great, and we go there, but we're partial to Shuler's.

And The Bookstore of Eerdmans on Oak Industrial Drive NE is simply wonderful, my favorite. And Bakers on East Paris. We're spoiled, I think! Thanks for the tip on Bargain Books. Been in there, but not much buying by me from there.

Crowm said...

I wasn't much of a reader while growing up. However, college and the ministry has changed some of that. I believe we're all readers of some kind. The last decade or so, God has really shown me the value of reading. I've actually been accused of too much reading as well.

As you say, I can learn from many genres. I think with music, art, or literature, it's important to know what the world is "saying" so that we can better know how to speak about Christ.

Question: What's your fav work on Wesley Ted?

Anonymous said...

i think that reading is a very useful thing to learn how to do, as well as writing. it is a very old and important form of communication.


Craver Vii said...

From what I've heard Ted, those bookstores are WAY better than average, and you are indeed blessed! You have access to excellent resources at your store level, and kudos for taking advantage of the library's lending system. A few times, when I looked for a book from our local library, I had to make use of their network, because they did not have the book I wanted in the building. That program is an outstanding service!!

I am a sssloooowww reader. Sometimes that bothers me. I don't mind reading something slow on purpose, but when I want to get through a bigger chunk of material at a reasonable rate, it is just not possible. I have ADD (betcha didn't know that), and I often find myself re-reading a sentence and not have any idea what I just read or how long it took me to get through it. I cannot read visually, I am an auditory reader. That means that in order for it to penetrate this thick skull, I have to imagine hearing the words, and that slows me down. Visual readers can process the words MUCH quicker, but I knew a visual reader who could devour books at light speed, but he was no good at reading aloud. I lament along with him: Why can't we have it all?

Oh, and thanks for sending the article on Calvin. That was thoughtful of you, my friend. :-)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, getting into the ministry certainly can make one an avid or growing reader, for sure. Yes, we need to know/understand our times, what "Israel" should do, I agree. As well as simply learning from others.

On Wesley, that's not an easy one, because I've not kept up well on the latest offerings on his life (but a good question!). This is an excellent book, different cover, but I think my copy is the same, one I read years ago, and would do well to reread. Wesley in some ways, as I just recently read, was a man ahead of his times in his thoughts on the Spirit- I mean in theological moves. Certainly Wesley has impacted my own theology more than I probably realize.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Words well spoken. Yes, both reading and writing- I agree, and maybe in that order.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, it's wonderful to have a good public library system. Of course you can get from Amazon nearly any book you can get at the stores, and overall (except for the seconds I get at Eerdmans- 60 to 70% off on slightly defective books published by them) you get at least as good of a deal. But it is nice to find good bookstores in which one can relax and sample new books (I'm surprised at how good our library system is at getting new books in, though of course they're ordinarily "hot" at first).

As to reading slowly and out loud, I think you're well off that way. Sometimes when people have to overcome some difficulties they end up excelling. Certainly better to take your time and get it, with the extra effort, than breeze through and only get the gist of something (and miss a lot in the process!). So take heart with your "slow" reading, and press on. By the way, visual reading in some ways I think is not as good as audio reading. Yes, one may get through more, but one may end up getting less. Actually, as you will recall, the Bible was written to be read out loud to its recipients.

Yes, hope you enjoyed that article.