Friday, July 13, 2018

Benefits of Slow Reading

Earlier this year I had an "aha" moment and decided to slow down my reading pace. Here are a few quotes (with links to the full articles) that I've collected that might encourage you to do the same:

From the Desiring God website, David Mathis writes how he came to peace with his inability to speed read in "Do You Wish You Could Read Faster?"

I have found that I typically get out of reading what I put into it. When I read quick and thin, I access more information, but I suspect it makes me a thin thinker.

Veery Huleatt at First Things writes about how Dorothy Sayers helped her to slow down in "Where Her Whimsy Took Me."

I had graduated with, not only a reading list, but also some terrible reading habits. I had trained myself to gallop through books and journals, armed with multicolored hi-liter pens and a stack of Post-its. Technology had only accelerated my slide. Thanks to Google Books, I could ditch the hi-liters and give the impression of having painstakingly combed through a book with only a few minutes of scrolling. I had perfected the skill of tweaking, recasting, challenging, interpreting—a skill that had saved my life more than once in the over-caffeinated hours of early morning. But I had sold the soul of the literature for it.


Friday, July 6, 2018

The One Year Book of Poetry by Philip Comfort

I've raved about this book on and off through the years, but have never actually reviewed it here. I'll share a few thoughts now that I've read it through for the third time.

The One Year Book of Poetry contains some of the best devotional poetry written in the last 500 years. Although I read a lot of poetry, this book introduced me to many new authors who are now favorites. Along with the better known John Donne, George Herbert and Christina Rossetti, there are poems by Francis Quarles, Edward Taylor and Robert Herrick (metaphysical poets from the 1600's).

There's very little fluff here. In fact, some of the poems are too theologically dense for the average reader (even with Daniel Comfort's explanations on the opposite page of each entry.) Although I love rich, gorgeous language, and depth of meaning, I'm a poetry pragmatist at heart. If I can't understand it without significant outside help, I am not inclined to love it. Even if only half of these poems got a thumbs up from me, those 180 deepened my love for beautifully written poetry that expresses life's joys and sorrows in the midst of earnest hope in a faithful God.

Henry Vaughan's (1621-1695) "Easter Hymn" has this marvelous beginning:

Another overwhelmingly beautiful poem is Edward Taylor's "Stupendous love! All Saints' Astonishment!" which is about the power of Christ's blood to cleanse us. He compares the blood to wine and writes,

My soul had caught an ague, and like hell
Her thirst did burn: she to each spring did fly,
But this bright blazing love did spring a well
Of aqua vitae in the Deity,
Which on the top of heaven's high hill outburst
And down came running thence t'allay my thirst.

How shall I praise thee then? My blottings jar
And wrack my rhymes to pieces in thy praise.
Thou breath'st thy vein still in my porringer ,
To lay my thirst, and fainting spirits raise.
Thou makes glory's chiefest grape to bleed
Into my cup: And this is drink indeed.

(ague = fever fit, porringer = small bowl, aqua vitae = liquor)

This is a book to be read and savored slowly and prayerfully.