Over at the Books & Culture blog Tony Reinke has some helpful thoughts on theological convictions that should undergird and spur on our approach to literacy and reading. Here are three ways that the Christian faith might encourage us to be thoughtful readers and literacy advocates in a post-literate culture:
First, I've found that we can gauge our literary tastes with Scripture. Is Scripture sweet to me like honeycomb dripping directly into the mouth (Psalms 19:10, 119:103)? This taste transition from Scripture-as-broccoli (necessity) to Scripture-as-honey (pleasure) is nothing less than a divine work of grace. To find spiritual delight in the prose, the poetry, the promises, and even the warnings of Scripture is at the pinnacle of God's purpose for literacy.
Second, the Savior's glory transforms literacy. When we see the knowledge of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, we read the Bible differently (2 Cor. 3:14-16). And we read everything differently. God's illuminating grace makes it possible for us to see what reflects our Creator and Savior in the starlight of creation and on the pages of great literature. The gospel provides us with new literary awareness.
Third, in the search for meaning, books trump images. It is no small challenge for a language-centered people to live faithfully in an image-saturated culture. Adam and Eve turned from the command of God when they saw the beautiful fruit. Ancient Israel chucked the earrings of adornment into a fire to craft a golden statue. And when the ear, the organ of language reception in an oral society, is exchanged for eye candy, things always go badly for God's people. The same is true today. This sacred history can help motivate us to develop our literacy.
For more theological reflections and practical suggestions on being a thoughtful reader, check out Reinke's new book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. Look for a forthcoming review on the CGC blog.