My father, who’s currently getting his PhD in English, used to be a full-time minister in an evangelical denomination of Christianity. He was on the board that was given the task to interview new ministers to determine ordination.
One question he learned early on to ask at those interviews was “What are you reading?”
This is a pretty typical question thrown around at cocktail parties and coffee shops. It’s a getting to know you question. Are you the sort of person who reads fantasy? Young Adult Lit? Whatever Oprah put on her list in 2006 that you just got around to reading? God forbid, something pretentious like poetry chapbooks? (Because there is no “I’m kidding” font, I would like to say that I’m kidding here.)
However, when my dad would ask these potential young pastors what they were reading, they would often flounder and then say, “Well, I read the Bible.”
Now, as a Christian, I am fully supportive of reading the Bible. Like, I think it’s vitally important.
But Christians shouldn’t just read the Bible. Because not reading widely not only makes you miss out as an individual, it makes you miss out as a Christian.
I read a fantastic article that was actually published a few years ago, but I stumbled upon it today while doing some research for a class. It was titled “Thou Shalt Read” and it was written by Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty University. (You can read the full article here at Relevant).
She basically lays out the different reasons why reading is important and vital for Christians. It seems like a simple idea, but I think it’s unfortunately a necessary thing for a lot of Christians to know.
The argument that I think was my favorite in her article was that reading non-Christian work helps us to “test” all things, and cling to good and resist evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
She uses an example of the first time she read Madame Bovary, a book that was banned in its day for being too racy, and how it helped her faith and marriage. She said she saw her own romanticism in Emma Bovary, and she said the novel opened her eyes to the poor results that could come from having unrealistic expectations about love and passion.
A “secular” work made her rethink something very integral to her personal character.
It helped her cling to good.
Reading is important. Reading makes us better, if we let it.
As a beginning writer who’s currently focused on one major writing project, I need inspiration wherever I can find it.
However, this article reminded me that reading isn’t just beneficial for me professionally.
It’s essential for me spiritually too.
So in the coming weeks as I read and blog, I’m going to be clinging to the good technically and artistically, as well as spiritually.
Because I want what I read to mean something to my life holistically. I want everything to be drawing me closer to the person I want to be and the Saviour I profess.
Keep reading, friends. Cling to good.