Reading

24 Jun

My buddy Steve and I have been having a little dialogue in the comment section and I realized that the next comment I was writing was both getting too long to be a comment and also becoming more of an independent idea that might serve better as a post. The conversation has to do with a book I read recently that respected people have said not to read. The reality is that books (this one in particular) can affect us in negative ways if they are making untrue claims about something that really matters (in this case God). There is real risk here as always when our beliefs are challenged.  

The reason I took the risk and read the book is that I love getting new perspectives on God. I don’t believe that my good friend Steve is saying that he understands God completely but from my end I really enjoy getting new viewpoints on who God is, running them through the lenses that I have of Christ and the Gospel, and seeing if my eyes aren’t opened up a bit more to the greatness of God.

For me reading this book was a good thing. I felt drawn to worship God even though I had some issues with the book. Due to some of the theology, I wouldn’t recommend the book to alot of people as I mentioned in my first post. But the reality is that I have lots of books on my bookshelf like that, those that have shaped me in some ways, but that would potentially be harmful to others.

And I have had to wrestle with issues brought up in books. Much of what I read really challenges what I believe. For me that has a been a really good thing. I feel like I know and enjoy Christ more than I did before as I claw through challenging stuff. Theology is no longer something for me that I have accepted and submitted to but something I have torn apart and challenged, in particular by hearing strong arguments from the other side.

In the end I greatly respect Steve’s willingness to restrict himself from things that could be harmful to his walk with Christ. I think we should all do that. In my experience, I haven’t found books like this one to have that affect on me. I will say that when I find myself reading too many books on investments or how to become independently wealthy, that is when I begin to feel my heart sliding away from Christ. I tend to want to control the rest of my life by being financially secure when I know that God has it all in his hands.

Perhaps in the end, it would have been sinful for my buddy to have read this book we’ve been discussing. And at the same time it may not have been so for me. Interesting concept for me. 

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2 Responses to “Reading”

  1. Steve June 24, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    Shane, thanks for this lengthy response. I am always amazed by how you can cut right to the quick of the subject at hand. Kudos to you for nailing it. In thinking more about the issue, I’m coming to see that reading a book that you’ve been “warned” about is not really the same as seeing a movie you know you shouldn’t see, or listening to a song you know you shouldn’t listen to. For one thing, there is generally a lot longer time commitment–time to parse out the good and the bad, and to allow God to use the book in the way he wants. For another, a book requires imagination from its consumer in a way that a song or a film can’t–and while that may open up the realm of “bad” things one might imagine while reading, it also allows the reader to imagine all of the good things. Allegory, metaphor, and all those other literary devices don’t translate well to movies and songs. I suppose the issue is, as with anything, about line-drawing, but I can see that it is much easier to both see the beautiful truth behind the messy stuff in a book and also reflect on the reading after it is done.

    That being said, I still don’t plan to read The Shack.

  2. Shane June 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    Very good. All is well that ends well. Appreciated your comment about how books are different, I hadn’t put that together clearly in my mind yet but I think you are correct.

    Greatly enjoyed the time together last night. Especially the video portion:)

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