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Location: New Castle, Indiana

Friday, July 01, 2005

Freedom to Read and the Intelligence to Interpret

I just got back from the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. Overall, I thought the conference was ok. I really didn't have any "aha" moments though. But, of course, Chicago is a fun place.

One event I went to though got me thinking about reading and Christians. It was at the Scholastic breakfast. The speaker was discussing a recent report about the decline of literary reading. I read the report when it first came out. But, I really began to think about how many people don't read during this breakfast. It's not that people can't read, they just don't (although illiteracy is a huge problem.) Being a reader myself, I can't imagine why people don't want to read. But, I also realize that I'm careful about what I read. In general, I don't read books that go against my beliefs. And I wonder if that doesn't limit my mind. Maybe it would be good for me to read books that are in conflict with my faith in order to strengthen my faith and exercise my mind. Because I would have to think to decide if something I'm reading doesn't line up with my values. Some books can be just as mind-numbing as television. It doesn't take any mental effort to understand what you're reading.

One quote from the breakfast really stuck with me. Several young people were interviewed about how the library had impacted their lives. One of them said that they weren't very good at reading, but since the library made him read, he realizes that the more you read, the better you get at it. How true! This made me think of my Sunday School class. When we read Scripture, we take turns reading aloud. Sometimes its shocking how unable people are to read a few verses out loud.

I like to read aloud. And, I think I'm pretty good at it. I think people should read to each other more. It's kind of an intimate thing to be read to. Or to read to someone. I think words have more power when they are spoken than just me hearing them in my own mind. It draws you close to each other -- the reader and the listener. Sometimes when I'm doing my devotions, I read the Bible out loud to myself. Even though I'm the reader and the listener, the power of the spoken Word is still there.

Try it. Read to your family, read to your friends, read to yourself.

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