Learning to think deeply, passionately, and intentionally is an important thing we must be trained to do.
Important as it is, it’s often overlooked in America because we think we know how to read. We’re a literate nation. There are nearly 200,000 books published every year, millions (if not billions) of magazines and newspapers, along with billions of blogs, social media posts, and paper ads. The sheer numbers can be staggering, but also deceiving. It gives the illusion that we know how to truly read. However, reading is not just the brains and eyes mechanical process of taking in signs and symbols (letters) and forming them into words, sentences, and paragraphs which give us information and meaning. Reading is a way we obtain the information someone is trying to communicate. Behind the form of communication, however, is a mind, a person, a being, that is trying to communicate. In a sense, if we read well, we should pick up on what’s “between the lines,” or the intention, motive, and mind behind the piece of writing.
In the schools I grew up in, they certainly wanted me to read between the lines, but often they gave me tasks that only wanted information. They may have called it reading comprehension, but they simply wanted to see if I knew who was pushed down the well, why the character pushed Tommy down the well, or where the well was located, which is not true comprehension. Comprehension is understanding the nature of, or meaning of something. Tommy may have been pushed down a well, in New Mexico, by Sophia, but behind these simple facts are questions that lead into more insight. Is this written for entertainment or learning and understanding? Is this fact or fiction? Why did the writer want me to know this? Does the writer know what they’re talking about?
You see, reading is only important because it is one of the keys to knowing how to think solid, clear, deep, true, and good thoughts. If you can learn how to read well (which there are dozens of books on how to read, which sounds funny), you can be freed from needing to be fed information.
I will give you a little background as to why I write this blog today.
I am a Bible loving, God seeking, child who had grown up with a lot of conflict over what was true. My pastor would say one thing, scientists would say another, and then my parents and teachers would say another. I was being told that what they we’re saying was true and right, but each of them was saying that the other was wrong. Being a young kid, who am I to believe? Of course I believed them all, and so it was difficult and I was never able to reconcile all that they said. Even at times I doubted either the Bible, God, or Science.
I know that this is one of the reasons most students, college students, and even adults have difficulty believing in God: They haven’t been taught to think for themselves, read well for themselves, and be able to logically come to true conclusions. This goes on both sides as well, because many Scientists push an agenda as well, though they may claim to be presenting only the facts and what’s true. So instead of teaching children to think for themselves, with sound logic, sharp thinking, and a clear mind, we indoctrinate them with teachings of every kind. Feeding them vain, worthless, and empty philosophies.
And because of this, I know that as a Christian I need to tell people what I believe and why I believe what I do. I need to express both what and why to my younger brothers and sisters in Christ. This is why I write.
We must teach others how to think by providing not only what we believe but also why and how we have come to those conclusions. And some of it will be subjective experience, but as a Christian, it will always be subjective experience understood through the light of Scripture.
If you’ve been reading, then learn to read well.