Reading the Bible-A Stray Thought

| | Comments (9) | TrackBacks (1)

I know that St. Blogs is filled with inveterate readers and so I thought I'd pose this question that niggles at me from time to time. If I am such an inveterate reader, why do I not read scripture with the avidity with which I approach Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, and others?

The Gospels are far shorter than the novels we read. They are, in fact, easily read in one sitting, were we so inclilned. So why is it that we seem to be so little inclined? Why is it that I do not read the Gospels through at least once a month. (One a week for four weeks.)

I can make all sorts of excuses and suggest reasons why I do not spend time in the scriptures, but the reality of the matter is that they do not mean to me what they should mean. They are not as important in my life as they should be to a person who purports to follow the leadership of the One whose life they describe.

I become more convinced through time that immersion in scripture and Tradition is what helps to make saints. Avoidance of this immersion is part of what holds us back. How can we be like Christ if the only time we hear anything about Him is at Sunday Mass? How can we hope to imitate, indeed become, Him, if we don't know who He is? And more importantly, who WE are? Because the scriptures, like any great work of literature, but par excellance, are a mirror for the reader. We read them and they accuse us of our faults and failings. They point out how we fail to be what God calls us to be. I know that in real life I avoid mirrors at all costs. I do not like to look at myself--I don't much care for what I see. (One of the chief advantages of being me is that I am on the inside looking out.) How much more then will I dislike looking in the mirror of the soul. How much less likely I am to like what I see there.

The pain of the mirror may be one reason for avoiding Scriptures, on the other hand, it is also one of the most compelling reasons to frequently visit and revisit them. This pain is a purifying pain, it is God's word of love. Just as we would not allow one of our own loved ones to go out into the world in deshabille, so too God wants us to internalize the fact that, to quote the young people of today, "You're not all that." Once this happens, perhaps we are closer to realizing that God is "all that."

So scripture reading, for those of us who love to read, seems to be de rigeur. And as we are a people set up on a hill, a lampstand to light the world, perhaps we would do well to act the part.

Bookmark and Share

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Reading the Bible-A Stray Thought.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Confiteor from Two Sleepy Mommies on September 9, 2004 3:36 PM

Steven Riddle on the love of reading: If I am such an inveterate reader, why do I not read scripture with the avidity with which I approach Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, and others? I need to ask myself the same... Read More


Thank you. I *really* needed to hear that today. You have blessed me!

I share your disinclination to read the SCriptures. I blame mine on two things - cultivation of a habit of concordance-driven prooftexting while a Protestant, making scripture seem like a big dreary puzzle to solve; and lack of will to cultivate a new habit nowadays.

Dear Bill,

I sympathize with the problems you note, and I add to it "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." I end up casting about for what exactly to read, someitmes resulting in the world famous Bible roulette. And I'm convinced that this is just the zeitgeist and the Devil himself getting in the way of what I am meant to fundamentally appreciate (in the most profound etymological sense).



"So scripture reading, for those of us who love to read, seems to be de rigeur."

I think you should get rid of the subordinate clause. "Reading" and "Scripture reading" are, I believe, significantly different acts.

Dear Tom,

You make an excellent point. The qualifier should have been, "especially." By which I mean those of us who like to read have absolutely no excuse for not reading scripture. (To whom much is given much is expected.) But no one who can read is or ought to be exempt from doing so. And those who cannot should look for recourse (the original purpose of both stained glass-windows and the Rosary).

Scripture reading is a necesary act. Thanks for the correction.



Great question Steven. Sometimes I think I shy from reading the bible because I don't want to burn out on it. I want it to be fresh. I'm afraid that if I read the Gospel of Mark the fourth time it will no longer inspire. Which probably is a faulty understanding of Scripture since I know intellectually that it is has great depths (Leviticus even?) and that inspiration can come from God, not art or lit.

I just got "The Passion of the Christ" on DVD and I'm hesitant to watch it for similar reasons. I mean to save it for a "rainy day". I've seen it twice and it so inspired me to want to become a better person that I am therefore (paradoxically?) loathe to watch it again too soon.

Obviously what I forget is that the Scriptures are not any other book or movie. I made a decision early this year to just start with Genesis and go all the way through, a couple chapters a week is all I'm averaging. I'm into Judges now, but I've found that reading the Gospels is like nothing else, and so much more powerful, that it feels wrong to be reading Judges when I could be reading John! But as St. Augustine said, if you don't read the OT you're limping to Christ on one leg.

Dear TSO,

Great point. I have seen Bible reading schema that parallel the two--that is you read OT books and NT books side by side throughout the year with the net result of going through the Gospels 2-3 times for each turn through the OT. This way you are constantly immersed in the promise of the New Testament while you explore its underpinnings in the Old.



One barrier for me is that the physical size of the Bible is a little much to read in bed. I actually have purchased some booklets that contain one or more books of the Bible (with commentary that I generally ignore!) and then I can carry it along like any other paperback.
A complete bible that is easy on the hands is hard on the eyes (thin paper and small print) and one that is easy on the eyes is clunky to hold and difficult to carry.
I am going to make another plea - we should memorize and have our children memorize Psalms. Having the Psalms in my brain has helped me to form prayer in times of desperate need. The rosary is excellent but the psalms also.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 8, 2004 9:47 AM.

John Bannister Tabb was the previous entry in this blog.

Praise and Prayer Requests 9 September 2004 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll