Recent ponderings have centered around one of my favorite subjects… Story.
I have spent many hours both reading and writing so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that words have surrounded my thinking just as passenger jets circle O’Hare International airport awaiting their turn to land.
The miracle of the gift of Story is our ability to take the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet, add a nearly infinite number of combinations… and a sprinkling of imagination… and we have… books.
I recently read about research which shows a correlation between the lack of reading good literature when young, along with the increased use of video games and technology… and the decrease of morality in the men of our culture. They called it a perpetual adolescence.
Now, I don’t believe one is less moral because they watch TV instead of reading or play video games when both are kept in moderation. There have been far too many Star Wars marathons and LAN parties (where Christopher and his friends linked up all their computers to play video games into the wee hours of the morning) in my home over the years to put the blame on technology alone.
But I get what they are saying as I remember the reaction brought by good books to both my children. From Stephanie’s love of the Anne books to her tears when an unexpected death occurred in Leon Uris’ Exodus sent her into mourning!
Christopher was not into literature at all until his mid-teens when he read The Count of Monte Cristo for our French Literature homeschool class… and he was smitten. He talked about the book for weeks and weeks and went on to joyfully read other books by Dumas.
He was incensed with the movie version of the above novel as the way they changed the ending (he felt) missed the entire moral lesson of the book (and he is a tekkie type, dyslexic, ADHD guy).
I am one of those bibliophiles who have been known to caress a beautifully bound classic, breath in the aroma of new ink, and gently turn yellowed pages of vintage volumes.
My heart beats a little faster when I turn to page one of a story recommended by a like minded reader and when I revisit the pages of an old friend… it is as if I truly walked the cobbled streets before and I was returning home.
Books change lives and affect history… for better and for worse. Ideas have consequences and most ideas start with books. I prefer to ponder today on the good changes books can make. For instances, a story which teaches us the positive affects of reading is Dr. Ben Carson’s original biography, Gifted Hands.
It is the story of the boy raised in the inner city of Detroit, failing at school and life… whose mother made he and his brother read two books a week and write a report for her (not knowing she could not read at the time). Dr. Ben Carson is now one of the world’s most renown pediatric surgeon and his brother also has had a successful professional career (I think engineering).
My own life was impacted by the Schaeffer’s books, Elisabeth Elliot wrote about the impact of reading Amy Carmichael’s books, and John Piper was deeply influenced by the writings of Jonathan Edwards.
A couple of years ago I passed on Ravi Zacharias’ amazing autobiography Walking East to West to a young Indian friend who shared it with his mother and… as he sat next to me at the wedding rehearsal… said he took it with him after graduating from the University. I constantly pray the seeds planted by the story of a life saved by Christ will grow within him.
There are morality lessons we learn from the Great Books which past generations knew and present generations lack. This was the premise of the best selling book called The Closing of the American Mind (by the late Allan Bloom).
In it he wrote about our Universities no longer teaching the Great Books, which gave society a uniform foundation of morality… and the combined knowledge that comes from reading the same books as a culture.
It dispels the idea that it is a good thing if young people are just reading anything and everything instead of reading well. For we become what we read and a steady diet of that which is not good… or worse trashy and defiling… will produce a generation that is shallow as well as immoral.
As one who is still startled by the quick passage of time, I realize more every day the importance of how I choose to use the finite time God gives me.
I am working on a balance between watching dramas and reading biography… watching lovely reruns of long ago favorite comedies… and reading good novels filled with humor…. watching movies based on Austen and reading Austen, and even the choice between good “Christian” novels and not neglecting His Book!
God has told us His Story through inspired writers of the Torah, the Prophets, the Poets, the Gospels, the Epistles… and everything between the Table of Contents and Maps. There is a reason the Bible is still the best selling book in the world, the book whose Author is living Word and able to change lives.
Now to end my writing of words and enjoy the reading of words.