Reading is often thought of as nothing more than one of many skills we learn in school. Some people will use it for the rest of their life, but the rest of us can get by using it minimally. Like math, I may need to know how to do it at a basic level to accomplish some tasks in life here and there, but I don’t ever need to go very deep with it. The same goes for science or history.
Many underestimate the importance of reading, but reading is infinitely important on multiple levels. First, it is simply a fact that words are the basis for all forms of communication. If you never read, you won’t get far in communicating with much of anyone. This is obvious but vital to the deeper reasons reading is so critically important.
Ironically, I read something this week that caused me to pause and consider the importance of reading.
People possess “a collective eagerness to disparage without knowledge or information about the thing disparaged, when the reward is the pleasure of sharing an attitude one knows is socially approved” (Marilynne Robinson, as cited in Alan Jacobs, How to Think).
Our culture is obviously polarized. I wonder how much of that polarization is due to misinformation. The point Alan Jacobs draws out here is important. How many of us make claims against something because we know people will agree with us without the ability to develop any reasoning for what we claim to be against?
As a small example, do the words “Republicans” or “Democrats” make you cringe? Why? If you look issue by issue, neither side is correct or incorrect in every way. Still, most of us are prone to side with one policy or another just based on a platform.
The issues this causes reach so much further than politically. Reading is important because it prepares us for face-to-face interaction. Sure, disagree with people. But do so civilly and based on accurate information.
Putting these two merits of reading together gives us the last reason reading is vitally important. It is no coincidence that the way God has spoken to us is through a book with words we can turn and return to in order to understand the redemptive plan of the Creator of the universe, testifying of his Son.
If misinformation is harmful in our discourse with others, it is even more detrimental in our relationship with God. He has spoken to you. Listen. Do so by reading.
As Charles Spurgeon put it, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”