Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Form of Slavery to Books

I confess to my shame that I feel somewhat guilty for NOT reading all the books and articles and blogs I can on Muslim Ministry.  Can you relate?  Here is book I probably won’t read but I thought the interview was helpful: Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

From an interview the author gave on his book:

So many Christians treat books [and articles, blogs, etc.] as taskmasters. Most Christians have a stack of unfinished books in their house, maybe on a desk or a bookshelf. Those unfinished books are often a source of low-grade guilt. We’ve been conditioned to think that if we buy a book, we must read it from cover to cover. That’s not true, and I’m trying to loosen Christians from this misunderstanding of what is really a subtle form of slavery to books.

Apart from Scripture, all other books are optional reading. In fact, all other books are tools for us to use in our lives as we see fit. We use books when we need them. This means that we can read books cover to cover if we wish. Or we can read one chapter, or one page. It’s our call. By writing in a book, I claim the book as a tool. I own it; it belongs to me; it was purchased to serve me, and its value to me as a tool far exceeds its resale value. This does not give me license to ignore the truth God teaches me in my reading, but it does liberate me to see books as gifts from God, not as taskmasters. And that’s a very important stage of development for Christian readers.

Of course, I mark all sorts of things in my books, but fundamentally it is a claim of ownership, a claim that reminds me that my books are my tools and that I am not enslaved to them.

1 comment:

PaulLion said...

I love the advice the J. Oswald Sanders in his book, Spiritual Leadership. He says on pg. 107, "What you intend to quickly forget, spend little time reading. The habit of reading and forgetting only builds the habit of forgetting other important matters." It was hard to do this for a while, but I have learned to look for the stuff that I will remember, primarily based off its application to my work at that given moment. The summaries of articles and books on your blog are incredibly helpful.