Wordsmiths, we are. If preachers are to be good talkers we must first be good listeners and voracious readers – William H. Willimon, “Pastor” p.147
Those of you who know me know that you will rarely see me without my Kindle or a book in hand. For most of my life, it has been this way. I love to read. There was a time, however, where I lost this passion. As a theology major in college, reading wasn’t much of a choice, and the assigned reading at times seemed overwhelming. It wasn’t the subject matter nor the texts; my professors assigned good reads. I think it may have been the due dates and reflection papers that came with each text that began to turn me off to reading. In my own twisted logic, I figured if I didn’t finish the book then I wouldn’t have to write the reflection paper. It was genuinely a source of anxiety and stress. With pages of assigned reading, I couldn’t dare justify leisure reading, and so came an odd pause on reading in my life. Most instances I would cram read the assigned texts the day before they were due and turn in sub-par reflection papers (assuming they were turned in at all). I began to hate reading ( 12 hour cram session are hardly a way to fuel a passion). This was a crisis moment for me. A passion of mine was being squashed, and I wasn’t sure what to do.
The answer came in the oddest of places. One of my professors shared a quote from Henri Nouwen, I don’t remember the quote or the text that it came from, but I remember it resonating with me deeply. I went out shortly thereafter and picked up the text Wounded Healer a short but powerful book Nouwen wrote in the 70’s. Mind you I was breaking my own rule doing this: “No leisure reading until you finish your homework!”. In spite of my rule, I began to read The Wounded Healer and I loved it. Without the paper to write afterwards or the deadline looming, the book was a joy to read, and in fact it relieved me greatly to see that reading was still enjoyable. Reading could still be fun. Rediscovering this in turn eased my anxiety to assigned readings. I found that as long as they were complemented with readings of my choice, reading assignments were manageable and in fact enjoyable again. The solution to my “overbearing” reading load was to read more.
That brings us then to the title of this post and in fact this blog. “I read too much.” Now I don’t really think that I read too much, but I do feel that I could benefit from some written reflections of my readings.
I don’t like to write. I was very sick in the 4th grade and I missed the lectures on sentence diagramming. As a result, my grammar is awful (some may find that to be a stretch but that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it). So I write this blog that I might reflect better on what I have read, but beyond that my goal is to share my passion of reading with those that might read this blog.
I hope to review newer books that publishers give me the opportunity to read, and also in between those “assigned” texts I will write reviews of my greatest hits in theology, sharing my thoughts and reflections on the books that have shaped me most in my development as a pastor, husband and father.
Up next is a review of Walter Brueggeman’s Sabbath as Resistance. Check back to read my response to this great author’s work.