That’s the kind of reader I had become. Read it fast, look for the key words and get through it to the next idea that I am looking for. Now that might work for students or even teachers who are doing some serious research or lesson planning. However, it can become a habit, a way of looking at words, something to get through to get to the idea and then be off and running to some new idea.
But it is a practice that costs much more than you think.
First, it can rob you of the joy of reading because it turns into a race against the clock.
Second, because the clock fences you in, you miss the point of reading, the exploring ideas that stretch and grow you, that open your world.
Third, it keeps you from growing personally. You may catch facts as your eyes race across the pages, but you run the risk of missing the messages in between the lines that God had there all the time just waiting for you.
Now, I didn’t just think all this up. In God’s timing, He brought the book READING FOR THE COMMON GOOD by C. Christopher Smith across my desk about a month ago. The subtitle is “How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish,” but don’t let the title scare you.
It was the first chapter that caught me by surprise, that nailed me between the eyes about my bad reading habits. Once in a while, I would have a friend who was reading the same book I was, and that slowed me down, causing me to read more attentively. I wanted to be able to talk about what I loved, or didn’t, and what the book made me want to do.
But, true confession, if I couldn’t or didn’t find a kindred spirit to read with, I tended to hurry through the book. Funny, as I write that, I wonder if I raced through the books that meant less to me, and slowed down and found a kindred spirit to co-read the books that did matter to me.
And unfortunately for you, maybe, I found you to co-read this book and Nick Vujicic’s book from last week’s blog with me. But more about Nick’s book next blog. For this week, I want to talk about slow-reading, the subject of the first chapter in Smith’s book.
Slow reading is kind of like slow eating. You don’t devour every meal so you can get off to do something more interesting. You enjoy some meals more than others, like you probably did your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. You didn’t gobble those meals down, or at least I hope you didn’t. You savored the flavors, the memories attached to the meal and the company. You ate slow enough to listen to the music of the people you loved around the table. Bottom line, the meal was about more than meat and potatoes.
Now to the slow reading. When I was teaching study skills, I taught my student to pre-read the material. Look at the photos, the bold faced material, the illustrations and even outline points. When you do that, you are warming up your brain and providing hooks to attach to the new material. This enables you to store the new material longer and to understand it better as you link it to what you already know. Funny how we can see the sense of that with a history or psychology lesson maybe, but not with our Bible reading.
And maybe you are like me, you may even work hard to get your Bible reading in every day, but sometimes you approach it like a job, a task, something to get through. So you get your eyes to cover the words, but you might miss the message. Slow reading is not about the number of verses or chapters. It is about catching the sense of things, what God, for instance, might want you to notice in this passage He has arranged for you to read this particular day. What He might want you to do or think or ??change or know about how much He loves you.
Well, my blog is now way over the word count recommended for blogs, so I will stop here. And I will encourage you to go back over the words your eyes have just flown over to see if there is something here for you to chew over as we begin a new year.
Happy New Year
Carol Brennan King
Still hungry – Here is what Smith says about reading and its value on pages 18-19.
Reading plays a role in a number of ways:
- forming us into the compassionate and faithful people of God, deeply engaged members of our church, our neighborhood and the world
- calling us to understand how God is and how God is at work in the world (particularly by reading Scripture)
- guiding us into a deeper understanding of our broken world and teaching us to imagine how such brokenness might begin to be undone
- discerning and developing our vocation – that is, how each of us might make our unique gifts available fort God’s healing and restoring work in the world (pp18-19)