Christians as Readers – Why? Pt. II.
Thank you for giving your time to read this next post in my series, “Christians as Readers.” As I’ve said, I believe that Christians should strive to be readers. I’ve discussed my testimony, what I don’t mean by that statement, and the value God has placed on the written word. Today I’d like to continue by giving you a few practical reasons why Christians should strive to be readers.
1. Reading expands your mind
Reading takes you to lands you’d never be able to go. By reading The Divine Comedy, you can see the struggles of Medieval Europe. By reading Washington: A Life, you can sit near General Washington as he suffers in Valley Forge. By reading The Lord of the Rings, you can struggle with Frodo as he painfully ascends Mordor. By reading Nicomachean Ethics, you can wrestle with Aristotle’s perception of reality. Reading takes you places you could not go on your own and lets you interact with the greatest thinkers and stories in the world. It takes you out of your immediate context and allows you to see through the lens of others.
2. Reading clarifies the mind
Have you ever been to the doctor not knowing what’s wrong? You walk in and begin to describe all the symptoms. Finally, the doctor sifts through all you’ve said and then brings clarity to what you’ve described by telling you what is wrong. There is a sense of “Aha! I am not alone. Other people have struggled with this. The doctor knows what it is.” Even if the diagnosis is bad, it clarifies the problem and allows you to live with some of the blinders removed.
Reading can do the same thing. In reading, you can see how other people perceive, struggle with, think through, and wrestle in the world. Reading shows you that other people in different places and times have thought through all that you are thinking through, giving you a framework to struggle in your context.
3. Reading strengthens the mind
Like lifting weights, reading exercises the mind that it might be stronger to interact with a wide range of thoughts. However, like lifting weights, you will only become stronger as you read things that stretch and challenge you. In reading, you get the opportunity to commune with any author – some of the greatest minds in the world. Your gym partner can be anyone, dead or alive. Further, you can truly interact with an author and take time to process. This isn’t true in most forms of communication. You can pause whenever you need and think about what has been said. You can learn from whoever you want at a pace you can take.
4. Reading gives integrity to the mind
We live in a culture that reads the headlines and moves on. But to truly read means engaging with an author on their terms. Reading like this gives the mind integrity because you must learn how to hear someone based on what they are saying, not what you think about what they are saying. It teaches patience, honesty, charity, and fairness towards others. While you will disagree with many authors on many issues, being a reader means you disagree with them rightly.
5. Reading connects minds
Reading is one of the best ways to build community. While reading is good to do as an individual, there is so much value in reading with others in mind. There is nothing like conversations with people who are reading the same book. Reading the same things means you have the same passions. It gives you a central point to focus discussion and allows you to interact with one another more freely. It means you are united in some way.
Further, I think being well-read is an incredible tool to engage with people you don’t know very well or want to build relationships with. When I don’t know how to talk to someone, easy questions are, “What are some of your favorite books?” or “What books are you reading now?” This opens the door because it tells me what they are passionate about. It gives an avenue to discuss important ideas.
I hope you found this helpful! Are there other reasons why you think Christians should be readers? Please share!
Thanks for reading.