Friday, January 29, 2010

Faith'n' Fiction Saturday: Why Read?


Welcome to Faith'n'Fiction Saturday where we take a closer look at the intersection of the Christian faith and fiction. You are welcome to participate by putting your answers in comments or writing your response on your blog.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to ask a series of questions that go back to the basics. Today's question is the most basic of all. Why read?

It may seem that this is a simple question, but in truth reading is a man made activity. And the act of reading is different according to language. Reading is a solitary activity which defies our understanding that we're meant to seek community, and it's a sedentary event, which keeps me from actively doing something else. There are times when I feel downright selfish for reading, like when someone else wants to talk to me, but I just want to have my nose stuck in a book.

But despite all of that, I still thinking reading is positive. Here's why:

Reading educates me
And in so many different ways. Either through story or the facts themselves, I learn through reading.

Reading comforts me

Reading increases my ability to empathize.
Not everyone can vocally express how they feel, but a book can often make me feel like I've walked a mile in someone else's skin. Countless times I've become softer and less judgmental as a result of reading. I've also been moved to act on the behalf of others.

Reading helps me know myself.
There is nothing in the world as sweet as suddenly staring at a page and seeing yourself for the first time in that glorious turn of phrase. As tired and cliche as it sounds knowing oneself is important. And reading helps make that possible.

Next week, I'll ask why read fiction, so just keep that in mind. :)

Your answers are welcomed below.


Anonymous said...

Why do I read? I think my main reason is to escape. Escape what? Whatever. Also for entertainment, but I do know that when life is troublesome (and mine has been a lot in the last few years), I can run away into a story and time will pass. I think that is why I'm a fiction reader almost exclusively. It's hard to run away into the real world.

Jim Cowart said...

I read for many reasons! First and foremost to learn. 90% of what I read is non-fiction (history, economics, philosophy, technical software guides, etc.) but I love fiction as well. I love to know how things work, even if I may never actually need the knowledge in my daily life. I read to understand the currents of history - how we ended up where we are, and what the major currents flowing today are attempting to do. I read to better understand and communicate my faith. I read for entertainment, to laugh, to cry and to continually expose myself to ideas, lives and attitudes outside my comfort zone.

You made some interesting observations about reading - how it is a solitary practice, etc. However, it is by far the best food for your mind compared to popular entertainment being spoon-fed to us via TV, Youtube or a movie. Os Guinness has a great book with some thoughts along these lines called "Fit Bodies, Fat Minds" - it's out of print, but you can find it used on Amazon. Highly recommend!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Have you read HONEY FOR A WOMAN'S HEART? There is a great chapter about why we should read, and why Christians shouldn't be afraid of non-Christian fiction.

I've used this chapter several times in starting new book clubs with church members.

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