In our online age there seems to be a ‘click’ approach to our Christian reading practices, and in ways, I see no problems with this at all. But, there is also potential for problems associated with this ‘click’ approach. If we are reading someone (like N.T. Wright et. al.) just to be considered part of the crowd or part of the cool kid’s group; we are missing the boat. I think we need to read where our interests genuinely lay. If we are interested in reading Augustine, or James Cone, or whomever; then we ought to. If we are reading things or certain people simply to impress other people, then let us be anathema! I think there is an ethic to reading (see Vanhoozer), and as Christians we ought to be genuine readers, for genuinely Christian reasons. Clearly, we might be spurred on to read someone (like Wright) to be part of the cool kids, and then as we are actually reading him switch over to genuine interest in what he or she is materially communicating; the Lord can transform and reverse all of our ill-conceived intentions.
Furthermore, if we all are click-readers, and are reading the same things; how are we supposed to minister to each other as the body of Christ? This is my biggest concern with ‘groupie-reading’. Not only is it not Christian by persuasion and mode, but it also creates gaps in the body of Christ. Maybe if we were more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, more in step with Him, we would sense His leading and direction into reading someone or something else; by so doing, we just might be surprised by what He has waiting for us, buried, as it were, in the dusty pages that the cool kids might not be reading.
Anyway, this is just another one of my rants & reflections. I have been feeling more and more convicted every day to be serious about what I am doing; to be intentional (I actually don’t like that little word, it is still so trendy, but it captures what I mean). Being an online participant has the effect of abstracting, at least, my life into a virtual mumbo-jumbo mode of abstraction that has no real touch-down in the concrete real life world I inhabit day in and out (in the home and at work in particular). It is time to stand up, once again, live boldly, read boldly, and actually participate in the vicarious humanity of Christ that grounds my life by the recreative power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I feel like chucking all my books and reading, but then I realize that that would be stupid. Reading good theological books is not the problem. Wanting to be a cool kid can be a problem (theology of glory). Reading good books (that are intended to explicate Scripture and the implications of God’s life in Christ) without prayer and passionate action is a problem. It is this reality, these problems, that motivated me to write this post on an ethic of reading as a Christian.