Reading and Learning
For several years now, at the insistence of many of my trusted teachers, I have made it a point to continue learning. Thus, I am the forever student, reading and adjusting. It seems to me that my teachers made this insistence because of the Christian insistence that our world fundamentally is both good and for us (Gen 1:28-31). Perhaps more simply, the Christian sees correctly that the world and everything in it is a gift. We Christians are the perpetual children of our world, constantly delighted at the many gifts that our heavenly Father has given us; and we glee giddily every morning to the living room that is Earth, where there awaits shiny new discoveries beneath the wrappings of learning. Hence, we Christians are obsessed with building schools, mapping the stars, and creating magnificent cathedral buildings that nearly defy mathematics. Medieval monks made the Dark Ages not so dark by reading and writing when Europe could not, the itch to calculate Easter correctly granted the world accurate astronomy, and the Church’s valuing of human beings led to hospitals and medicinal studies. All of these occurred, in short, because the Christian sees the world as a gift worthy of opening and discovering.
Now today, it seems that one of the greatest temptations is to deny that creation is a gift, and we do this whenever we look at creation, including other humans, and say meh. It is more than our refusal to learn, it is our refusal to let the flowers be smelled or the clerk to be looked at. God looked at the world He created and declared it good, but we can think that is a lie. Indeed, this is the first and perhaps greatest heresy, for it denies God’s first declaration that He made creation good. Thus, our refusal to learn tells God that His gifts are not interesting. Our refusal to be loved tells God that He is a liar for saying we are made good.
The remedy to our unhealthy disinterestedness is reading. Read everyday and diversify. In just the last year alone, outside of school, I read several books and learned about integrated circuitry, photography, biblical commentaries, history, Thomas Aquinas, as well as some novels. I have a running list of books to read, so I never have an excuse to stop reading. It is no accident that the ancient word liber is the same word for both book and free. Freedom is intrinsically linked to the ability to read and learn; so be a student because students are a free people. God is the teacher, and this world is His lesson book; and O the many lessons that are in it!
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