Readers of this column will recall that, back in mid-November, we lamented the sorry state of reading among the followers of Christ and opined that something like a Christian Literacy Campaign would seem to be in order.
I'm pleased to announce that this project is now under way. And not a moment too soon, I might add.
If Dr. Mark Edmundson is right, even the habits of those who do read need some serious revision. Writing in the January 30, 2011, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Edmundson complained that people who read today, in the main, do not read to be influenced, changed, or improved in any way ("Narcissus Regards a Book") They read to be entertained. Reading is for pleasure only, not for enrichment. And there is no shortage of things to read which are designed primarily to make us feel good. "Reading," Dr. Edmundson insists, "where it exists at all, has largely become an unprofitable wing of the diversion industry."
As one who has written more than twenty books, trying to influence and improve the lives of others, and not a single book meant to make people feel good about themselves, Dr. Edmundson's thesis answers some questions that have perplexed me. Such as, why is it that these books of mine do not seem to find their way to very many readers?
"Reading in pursuit of influence," Dr. Edmundson continues, "that, I think, is the desired thing." This is precisely the sort of person we're trying to call into being through our Christian Literacy Campaign. You are doubtless one such person, since you are reading this column, which has no intention of diverting, entertaining, or pleasing you, except insofar as growing in understanding of the world and gaining a larger vision of what your life can become pleases you.
I feel quite certain that we all know people who would like to see their lives improved. That is, they are willing to be influenced and hoping to be shaped in ways that are more satisfying and fulfilling than what they presently know. Dr. Edmundson believes this to be the case, and so do I. Our task, then, is to seek out such people and to help them to understand how weaning from the entertainment teat onto the more solid food of serious reading can, in fact, change their lives.
To that end, we present this month's free download, a brochure entitled, "Christian Literacy Campaign," chocked full with excellent suggestions, from you, our readers, as to how we might improve the reading habits - and, consequently, lives - of our fellow believers. Get your copy today. Make a dozen copies by printing it off front-to-back and folding it into three panels. And don't come home until you've given all twelve copies to some friends.
Then do the same tomorrow.
We're not trying to sell anything here. We simply believe that if more Christians became serious readers, they would become more serious Christians. And serious Christians seeking the Kingdom of God, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God, living as witnesses for Christ, and transforming everyone and everything they touch - serious Christians like this is what the world needs now more than anything else.
Perhaps you will be willing to help recruit some?
Additional related texts: 2 Timothy 2.2; Matthew 28.18-20; 2 Timothy 2.15
A conversation starter: (Assumes you are handing a copy of Christian Literacy Campaign to a friend.) "Hey, check this out. I'd like to talk with you about this, and about how you and I can begin to become more serious Christians. Are you willing?"
T. M. Moore