“I’m just not much of a reader.”
I heard that a lot while serving in the local church, and more so from adults than teenagers. Anecdotal and objective studies affirm that Americans are far more interested in just about anything other than reading.
- 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
- 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
- 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book in 2009.
- 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
- 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
- Each day in the U.S., the average adult spends 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio (talk or music) and 14 minutes reading (and reading magazines at that).
These statistics don’t necessarily show an illiterate culture , but they do show that we are becoming an aliterate culture. And this is a dangerous reality. Neil Postman famously said this in his book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
What is happening in America is that television is transforming all serious public business into junk … Television disdains exposition, which is serious, sequential, rational, and complex. It offers instead a mode of discourse in which everything is accessible, simplistic, concrete, and above all, entertaining. As a result, America is the world’s first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death.
Against this cultural reality, I pose this simple question: if the primary way God has chosen to reveal Himself is through the written Word, what are we telling Him when we who are aliterate say, “Well, I’m just not that much of a reader?”
Check out Paul in Ephesians 4:17-24 (emphases for points that follow).
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to itheir hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul, in drawing up a contrast between the unsaved and saved life, wants us to see how important our minds are. He warns us to beware the power of ignorance to corrupt our lives, and implores us to embrace the power of truth that liberates us in Christ. To become a follower of Jesus Christ is to be transformed not only in our thinking, but by thinking. Christ is our all in all, and this reality is significantly cognitive.
As the totality of this blog demonstrates, I’m aware of and a fan of different teaching methods and different learning methods. I understand that not everyone desires to sit for hours and listen to lectures or read books. But just because that is the way our culture is does not justify Christians being the same! On the contrary, Paul’s whole point is that Christians are different, and become and stay so by the renewing of their mind.
Ignorance breeds corruption. Truth breeds liberation. Read on, fellow Christian. Read on.
For a helpful read on studying the Bible with those who cannot read, click here.