Friday, March 6, 2015

Reading in Community

   Two things have been on my mind lately. One of them is that I just recently listened to The Bible as Literature podcast episode Broken Records. In this episode, Father Marc Boulos stated that if the reading the entire Bible is too daunting, read one book over, over, and over again in order to really understand it. Then, once that is done, find someone else who has done the same with a different book and learn from each other. If this is done with enough people, then one can learn the entire Bible through the experience of community.
   The other thing on my mind is that I have been taking a class on Biblical Interpretation. One of the things which set the Brethren in Christ, the denomination which I'm a part of, is that we believe in interpreting the Bible through community.
   So the two of these ideas have been swimming through my mind and it has gotten me thinking. There are so many books in the world, good books; so many that I'll never be able to read them all. These books reveal so much good philosophy and good parts of humanity that I really want to read them, but I know that there just isn't enough time in my life to do so. How do I remedy this?
   With the invention of the printing press, books became far more readily available than ever before. It was actually now possible to own a copy of a story which no one else had read before. As technology grew, that capability increased. Thus, stories were no longer a thing of community (stories passed from person to person or performed and seen by many), but became a personal thing. Television has changed that slightly, as people gather to watch and talk about their favorite shows. Podcasts are wonderful for this, because it increases the ability for the gathering of those who enjoy a certain television show to discuss and better their digestion of the story.
   Yet, reading has not been able to reach this point. Why? Because it is still a personal thing. It is difficult to find people who like the same books (or have even read the same books). Book clubs try to remedy this, but in order to make sure everyone has read the same book most of the people must compromise for a book they don't want to read. That's not a bad thing, but forced reading can be tedious (just ask any schoolchild).
   So maybe the answer isn't a book club, but a gathering of readers. A way to discuss stories and to get the most out of them. Goodreads is great for this, but sometimes the personal quality is missing. Though the exchange of differing perspectives is brilliant, there is no personal sense of community.
   What is my solution? I don't really have one. What I do know is this: everything, be it television, movies, or books, should be processed in community. How that is done will vary (introverts and extroverts will act this out differently), but community, though the antisocial part of me hates to say this, is important. It is vital. So the next time you, no... The next time I read a book, I will remind myself not to leave it at that; the ideas, philosophies, and emotion should be enjoyed and discussed in community.

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