Spiritual Reading

Spiritual reading is mostly a lover’s activity – a dalliance with words, reading as much between the lines as in the lines themselves. It is leisurely, as ready to re-read an old book as open a new one. It is playful, anticipating the pleasures of friendship. It is prayerful, convinced that all honest words can involve us somehow or other, if we read with our hearts as well as our heads, in an eternal conversation that got its start in the Word that “became flesh.”

— Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Message, (Meditation for September 24)

I admit that I am frequently guilty of what Peterson calls “reading as a consumer activity,” i.e., reading for the sake of information that will “fuel [my] ambition or careers or competence.” I think, however, that this cannot be helped if one’s career has become an idol. In today’s competitive world, especially in the field of law, to read “consumeristically” is a necessity if you want to rise to the top. The solution seems to be: not to want to rise to the top. To be sure, one must do one’s work well, excel even! But one must also set limits. I should always remind myself that “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” and “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.”

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