One of my “New Year’s Resolutions” this year is to feed my mind and spirit by making time for reading or re-reading some worthwhile books. I don’t have a set list, but am letting the Spirit guide me.
For instance, while reading C.S.Lewis Remembered, there were so many references to The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers, that I decided to get a copy.
In her introduction to this book, Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time, etc.), writes,
In her preface, [Dorothy Sayers] bewails the public’s inability to read. This illiteracy comes from neglecting to understand what the words are actually saying…this lack of understanding is caused by the fact that readers inevitably impose their own prejudices…on what they are reading.
A friend of mine had a post on Facebook this morning in which she commented on how fruitless it is to try to convince someone of something on social media. She talks about trying to have a dialog over a difference of viewpoint with a friend and says “As I’m thinking through and dealing with one issue, she comes up with many more.” This is even more evident on Twitter, where the the rapid back and forth responses show the glaring lack of understanding of the the other party’s posts and too often degenerate into obscenities and name-calling.
This is important for Christians to understand. We are under the Great Commission to share the Gospel. Sharing requires both giving and receiving. If we are attending only to our own inner dialog without being sensitive to other’s reactions, we are wasting our time and theirs.
Dorothy Sayers was complaining about how misunderstood her writing sometimes was by people blinded to her meaning by their own preconceptions. If this is a problem when reading words set down clearly in black and white, how much more difficult is it to hear another’s meaning when our own thoughts are drowning out their words?
When we react reflexively to thoughtful essays and comments by rejecting them with the same passion as we do the shouted slogans, mindless attacks and protest signs, we remain functionally illiterate and deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow beyond our own narrow mind-set.
I don’t consider myself a scholar, in fact I deeply regret never completing my college degree, so I try to keep reading and learning.
I don’t ever want to be considered illiterate, so this year I’m going to try to listen and read thoughtfully, attempting to glean the meaning the writer or speaker is trying to convey before coloring over the words with my own perspective.
Wish me luck!