A Million Pages In…

million pagesGot your summer reading plan yet? This is a great time to think about it.

I was somewhat effective during Lent limiting my on-line reading and getting back to a more disciplined hard copy, but I have collapsed since Easter into a previous bad habit I really want to break.

As long as I habitually check Google News, Huffpost, The New York Times, articles forwarded by friends and family, Facebook, Twitter, and such I get a steady diet of controversial and up to the minute re-hashes of all the events happening in our world. I say “all the events” because I can no longer pretend a lot of it is really “news.” I also get plenty of opinion and analysis. And some of it is really good.

But as a result I read fewer books than I used to a few years back. And that loss means I am often letting others determine my subject matter. I miss not just the theology and church life, but the novels, biographies, and any number of odds and ends that can really make our lives much richer. Summer is a great time to delve into a separate world you might otherwise miss during the school year.

Comedian Aziz Ansari described this addictive nature of the internet and recognized how hard it is to wean yourself away, even for worthy substitutes. He said internet reading was like being “a million pages into the worst book ever…” You know it just isn’t good.  And you know you’re never going to stop reading.

Looking for a Fall congregational novel I am reading (or re-reading) Steinbeck’s The Pearl, Hesse’s Siddartha, Toni Morrison’s Home, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and Coelho’s The Alchemist. I hope to find in one of these short books a journey my church might enjoy taking together.

And lastly but most importantly Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and the Psyche is a book recommended by a pastor friend after listening to me in depth a month or so ago. Bill Plotkin’s book is coloring my sense of call and enlivening something inside. By later in the summer I will be ready to describe it better and the spiritual growth it both celebrates and promotes.

We are invited to let the liturgical year shape our souls in walking through distinct phases of religious life. Similarly summer can be a defining chapter used to break our apathy. We can find in these larger days a parallel path of discovery and enjoyment that will deepen and broaden us.

What’s on your bedside table? Your coffee table by the couch? What book, lying in wait by your suitcase, is ready for the time you might set aside from a screen? Time that you will use to open it up in order to be opened up in return?

One thought on “A Million Pages In…

  1. The only consolation I can offer, Don, is that you are far from alone in suffering this malady, one I believe is shared in more or less equal measure by the 72 million or so people who voted for someone other than the current occupant of the White House last November. To the charge that those people are suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” I plead fully guilty, and my reading outside the bubble of politics has been reduced accordingly. This despite my oft-repeated resolve to discipline myself and reacquaint with the shelves of unread books groaning for my attention. As one wag recently commented: “I want to be able to wake up just one morning not feeling terrified.”

    Was actually going to write about this very matter on my own blog this weekend, but in order to do so I’ll have to tear myself away from all those cursed news alerts showing up on my phone, my computer, in my very dreams, from the CNN/NPR/NYT/WAPO cabal. That figures to be a mighty task, so send me strength, Padre!

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