Friday, March 9, 2012

God and Books...Where's the Connection?

Source: Historic Byways and Highways of Old England� By: William Andrews
Status: Public Domain in the USA*

     Hey, Book Bandits--this post is for you! Especially if you're a Christian. As many of you know, I'm taking online classes at Regent University. One of the professors of Language and Literature (Professor Amy Rickards) wrote a cool article that I wanted to share. It reassured me of how important my studies are.  I've always wondered how books could possibly be part of my spiritual life; I mean, if I'm reading a book, I'm not reading the Bible, getting work done, or helping anybody out. Have you ever wondered about this? That's what this short article addresses! It takes about 2 minutes to read. Check a pared-down version of it below, or follow the link at the very bottom for the full article, including Professor Rickards' extensive credentials:

Loving the Lord Through Literature

By Professor Amy Rickards
...John Wesley, the great preacher and theologian, stated, "Reading Christians are growing Christians. When Christians cease to read, they cease to grow," and I believe that his words are a significant exhortation for us as believers striving to know and love God better.

I realize that not everyone is a bookworm like I am. During my childhood and adolescent years, I developed an incredible love for reading. While most parents try and encourage their child's love of reading, my mom was always saying, "Get your nose out of that book!" I would try and hide my book under the dinner table so that I could keep reading even during meals because heaven forbid that I might have to wait to find out what happened next in the story I was currently enjoying. Despite my mother's admonitions, she and my father fostered my love of words and reading by always buying me books and encouraging me to write stories of my own as a child. Literary scholar Leland Ryken, in his essay "Thinking Christianly About Literature" writes, "Literature takes reality and human experience as its starting point, transforms it by means of the imagination, and sends readers back to life with renewed understanding of it and zest for it because of their excursions into a purely imaginary realm," and I certainly experienced this phenomenon in my own life.

Although I grew up reading and loving books, it wasn't until my sophomore year as an undergraduate that I really began to understand how significant reading and the study of literature was to my relationship with Christ and with other believers. The chair of our Language and Literature department here at Regent, Dr. Susannah Clements, words this concept beautifully with her statement that, "Literature is a creative expression of universal human experience, and it has value in the way it can help us better understand what it means to be human, sinful but still made in God's image." My love for literature deepened as it became a wonderful way for me to develop and express my relationship with Christ, and I went on to pursue a master's degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University, feeling a calling from God to share and impart this love of God and literature through teaching.

Whatever your background with language and literature, I would encourage you to consider developing your relationship with the Lord through the study of the written word. I would love to have the opportunity to work with you! May God bless your study of language and literature!

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