Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Book Reads You?

A friend shared with me a disturbing fact this summer. This friend is active in ministry and a person I greatly respect. In correspondence I asked what book was he reading recently? After a long pause, he said, "I really don't read books any more." I paused a bit too long, so he said, "I read magazines and professional journals, but I just don't have time to read."
What does that mean: I don't have time to read? I've stopped asking Inquirer's Class members what books they are reading as an ice-breaker question because over the years too many class members have awkwardly confessed that they do not read books. Can a Christian be a growing Christian an not read supplemental books in addition to the Bible? If pressed further, would these friends also confess that they do not read the Bible either in any serious or sustained way?
I shared this conundrum with a pastor I know and respect. He responded that over the years he has faced increasing "push-back" from his staff to any reading suggestions. At one point the staff was regularly reading a book in common, now he has given up. Do staff members read books together?
I confess that I come from a reading family on both sides. Martha's parents are intense readers as are mine. Martha and I are always reading several books. Books shape my language and my thinking. Authors push me into new territories of spiritual growth and reflection. Books end up reading me, more than me reading them.


At 2:08 PM , Blogger IfallslibraryDiane said...

I am reading several books right now. And yes, I am prejudiced towards readers as I am a librarian.

I am reading:

The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris, (rereading actually)

Forever Rose by Hilary McKay (a YA series that features a family struggling with life and being family)

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Faith of My Fathers by John McCain

Reading is both my escape and my challenge. I read when I want to have to think and when I want to escape. I usually have 2 - 4 books going at any one time, usually at least one childrens or teen novel as I used to be a children's librarian and found that some of the most thought provoking work is written for children.


At 7:59 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Yeah! You are the standard!

At 10:10 AM , Blogger Laura. said...

but don, you didn't say what books you are currently reading! i want to know! i could especially use some recommendations in the "spiritually supplemental" category, as there seem to be so many options out there, especially those geared toward my generation. it's a little overwhelming to try to weed through them to find the truly helpful reads.
your post has challenged and encouraged me. currently i am working on: the brothers karamozov, paul johnson's art: a new history, and self-help, short stories by lorrie moore who is possibly my favorite author.

At 4:16 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

I will do a post on those books that touched me this summer on Monday. Thanks for the suggestion.

At 5:11 PM , Blogger Everett said...

Hi Don,

How about an annual MCC parish book?

• If we give everyone one year to read the book, even non readers may make the effort. What a joy to be in one of the discussion groups at the end of the year.

• Many colleges have an annual book that is discussed, in small discussion groups, when the students return in the fall. Last year, at Carleton, it was Mountains beyond Mountains. (Primarily focused on Paul Farmers clinic development in Haiti)

• Some cities have an annual book. I believe the 2007 “ Santa Barbara Reads” book was “The Travels of a tee shirt in the global economy”

• I was surprised to see the Arlington Auditorium sell out to hear Greg Mortenson talk about his book Three Cups of Tea – World peace one school at a time

• Like Laura, I look forward to receiving your spiritual book recommendation even if we do not adopt a MCC Parish Book of the year.


At 9:08 AM , Anonymous Tyler said...

All through high school and college I probably read 3 books in their entirety. I did not care for taking the time to read 200 pages. I thought reading a short magazine article would work just fine.

When I decided to go to seminary I knew I needed to become a reader or I would fail, or at least not the most out of the experience. Having done this I totally agree with you. The book reads me and changes me and how I think, especially the great ones.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

At 11:01 AM , Anonymous Rahab said...

Dear Donn,
I would ahve too sincerely agree with the last comment written of how it is amazing while having the encouragements too read a book, and the interests in them....when actually the most significant matter is being captured up whole in the demonstrations of "The Book Reading Me".... A Life worth living ; hardships and all. Dr. Scot McKnight has been an emmense Blessing--true words of authority, but...mostly that of compassion for the other--Our Brothers and Sisters involved! As well as "The End Of Memory" written by Mirosalv Volf" - A Saint he is...as well as his book "Forgiveness" A Culture Stripped Of Grace....ummmm yeah! Theologians a Must!!! Yes. Saints they are-these men!!


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