August 13, 2012

Perspective on reading...

James T Boyce Centennial Library, The Southern Baptist Seminary
I've been an avid reader since I was about four years old (apparently, my mom homeschooled me a bit before I went to kindergarten). And I've been thankful that my kids enjoy reading, as well, especially since reading is so much a part of our homeschooling plan.

Earlier this summer, I came across an excellent article from John MacArthur about the value of a liberal arts education. He began the article with a summary of a University of Virginia survey on key skills to expect to gain from a college degree. The top three skills were communication skills, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking skills. Those surveyed also overwhelmingly recommended the pursuit of a liberal arts degree.

As I read through the rest of the article, I realized that our mostly classical approach to education has quite a liberal arts bent. And I wished I'd had this perspective when I was in college -- at that time, I thought the liberal arts program was for those who didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up. Ironically, I ended up changing not only my major, but also changed schools, and ended up earning an associates degree in, of all things, general studies. It was basically a mini liberal arts degree.

As my daughter begins her junior year and my son approaches high school, I find myself further honing our approach to education. Because our education style is so literature heavy, I want all of us to learn to be better readers and discerners as we read. One tool that is helping me to do this is the book, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke. I'm not through the book yet, but I wanted to share a couple of quotes that are already helping me think through reading.
" is impossible to be a discerning reader of books without first understanding the Christian worldview." (p52)
It's important to note that Reinke had previously described how the Bible provides the means to a Christian worldview.
"The gift of literacy is more profound than merely mastering literary techniques, improving comprehension, and learning to speed-read. Fundamentally, literacy is a spiritual discipline that must overcome the spiritual darkness that veils us. If we ever hope to spiritually benefit from our reading, the Holy Spirit must intrude upon our lives and remove our blindfolds so that we can behold the radiant glory of Jesus Christ (John 1:9)" (p33)
 I'm intrigued to read what Reinke will have to say about choosing what we read in light of this principle. I know some believe that fictional literature is a waste of time; I see incredible value in good fiction but believe we should balance our reading.
"In a world so easily satisfied with images, it's too easy to waste time away with entertainment. We have a higher calling. God has called us to live our lives by faith and not by sight -- and this can mean nothing less than committing our lives to the pursuit of language, revelation, and great books." (p50)
This is such a strong statement, yet I see the truth in it. How much more discerning would we be if this were our pursuit?

Lit! has been an enjoyable and challenging read thus far. My older son read through Adler's How to Read a Book, but I plan to have my daughter read Lit! instead as she begins her school year. I think it will provide a more contemporary approach, especially as it addresses the effects of the internet on reading habits. And I think I'd like to read this book after I finish Lit!.

What are you reading these days...and why?


  1. on, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos--lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost. Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading. I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refun

  2. This book does sound interesting, Suzanne - and goes perfectly with that guest post! I may look have to look for it in my library. Thanks for sharing!


We don't all have to agree, but please be nice!