Friday, July 22, 2011

Engage them to read!

Richard Baxter, in his classic work on pastoral work, The Reformed Pastor, gives a clear endorsement to reading outside of the Bible:
See that in every family there are some useful moving books, beside the Bible. If they have none, persuade them to buy some: if they be not able to buy them, give them some if you can. If you are not able yourself, get some gentlemen, or other rich persons, that are ready to good works, to do it. And engage them to read them at night, when they have leisure, and especially on the Lord’s day.
It would be interesting to learn what types of 'useful moving' books he had in mind. Was he speaking of classic works of fiction? Did he have in mind spiritually directed books of the non-fiction variety? The descriptor 'useful' seems to point to non-fiction, but perhaps the term 'moving' points back to fictional stories. Then, again, to read when one has leisure might point towards fictional works whereas reading on the Lord's Day seems to indicate religious works.

I'm not sure what Baxter had in mind, but my suggestion is that you read both as often as you can. I have been focusing on Russian fiction this year having read from Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekov. I have some Solzhenitsyn that is in the cue as well. I also enjoy non-fiction and read more of that than I do of fiction. But I encourage you; READ!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been reading quite as much lately, so this is good encouragement for me. I've read very little of the Russian authors but they're on my never-ending list. I did read Solzhenitsyn a few years ago (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) and it continues to stick with me.