Genuine Reading

I spend too much time reading, which seems appropriate for a College President, but most of it is not what I’d categorize as “genuine reading” because it does not enrich me. Reading should lead us into ideas that are deep and complex, it should transport us to places where we’ve never been, and it should allow us to look into the lives of those who inspire or challenge us. Reading should make us think and reflect.

It seems that life today has become filled with reading that comes like a continual cascading waterfall, but it all misses the point of genuine reading. We have endless emails to read, snippets of news reports, and headlines from dozens of watched websites. Many have delved deeply into reading Facebook, Twitter, or Instant Messages—all which keep words in front of us but have little intellectual, emotional, or spiritual nutritional value.

Genuine reading should be memorable, but informational reading is fleeting. Genuine reading should be transforming, but informational reading is numbing. Genuine reading should be valuable, but informational reading tends to be void of meaning.

I was recently in an airport and saw a fellow traveler with a Kindle, the new electronic book device created by the president of Amazon.com. The businessman in line beside me couldn’t take his eyes off the screen, as he was deeply engrossed in the book. When he did look up, I asked him about it, and he told me how much more reading he’s done since he started purchasing the electronic version of books.

I told him that when I invest the time to read a book, I want to own it so that I can have it on my shelf, and every time I look at the spine of the book, it will bring back the memories that were triggered by reading the volume. The electronic book owner said he couldn’t agree more, so now when he reads an electronic book, he also buys the hardback volume so that he too can have those memories on his shelf.

I don’t know anyone who wants to keep e-mails, Twitter messages, or Facebook pages on their shelf for decades, but books that enrich our lives are the type of reading we should cherish—and not be pushed out of daily life by all the information we are tempted to read.

While our students Tweet, I also know they read, discuss, and critique the great ideas of the ages as they work through our Worldview Curriculum—a two-year general core curriculum that connects big picture concepts of history, literature, philosophy, arts appreciation, and the development of the Christian Church.

The feature article of the Tartan will share with you the significance of this course of study we developed a decade ago. I can assure you that our students are reading books that matter—and when I talk with them about how their worldview has changed during their time at Belhaven—I see the strong preparation they are receiving to stand tall as followers of Christ in the global marketplace of ideas.

So after you finish reading this issue of the Tartan, I’d also encourage you to pick up a good book and get lost in it—maybe oneof the texts included in our Worldview curriculum, which can be found at www.belhaven.edu/academics/Programs/worldview.htm.

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