Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Neither idle nor idol

When I first went back to study after having children I knew I would have to be wise. No longer with the luxury of only having to care for myself and my husband (who, quite frankly, takes better care of me than I do him), but with two small boys to fill my days I knew that study would prove challenging. Unfortunately, challenges to my time are weighed against my love of study, and particularly, my love of studying literature. In order to maintain equilibrium I would (and still do!) remind myself: that study is neither idle nor idol.

I desire to work hard, be diligent but I know that God has blessed me with real characters (with real feelings and real needs) that are my responsibility, he has placed me in a real setting, and has given a plot and narrative which places Christ at the centre, and not my study.

It seems to me that this is the crux of what Reinke is arguing when he is looking at the practicalities of reading. It is both hard work, which requires focus and perseverance if we are to keep at it, but it also not our raison d’être, we are not to let reading so dominate our lives.

Reinke’s book is a great book to start the year. His own avid reading habits are apparent in the constant and delightful nuggets of wisdom he has extracted from a variety of sources.

I’m interested in thinking further about a range of things Reinke has raised in Lit! through EQUIP book club this year. I’m excited to be reading literature, in the form of Dostoyevksy’s The Idiot during the rest of February. After spending time immersing ourselves in Luke’s Gospel in the lead-up to EQUIP13 we’ll be taking some time to think through the questions raised in chapter 11 of Lit! by reading Challies’ The Next Story. We will also accept the challenge that we should be reading meaty theology by delving into Carson’s Jesus The Son Of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, And Currently Disputed. At the end of the year we will continue our ‘December Classics Month’ tradition with Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. There are other books as well, but these reflect the range of books which Reinke challenges the reader to engage with. Not just easy and new.

And we’ll do this together.

I’ll finish this entry with another nugget, which Reinke has mined for us:

Reading broadly together will keep me from always being on a new crusade to the bewilderment of Christian friends. The Christian purpose of all this reading is to glorify God. Reading alone may do this, but when we become passionate about an issue it is nice to have company. When we have missed the mark, they can correct us. It is gratifying, however, when the new viewpoint which seemed so exciting to me is adopted by others. When I make a new discovery it will seem implausible for the simple fact that no one around me sees what I now see. If friends travel the same road, all is different. (Reinke, quoting Rick Ritchie, 158)

What are we doing as a book club? We’re (hopefully) doing just this. It is also a reminder that our first love (in reading terms) is the Bible.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Sian! I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone by reading Lit! And what a great phrase to capture the 'proper' place of reading, neither Idle nor Idol. I'll be holding onto that one! :-)