Let the Reader Understand, Part 2

In my previous post, I outlined the rules for analytical reading of expository literature that Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren give in their book, “How to Read a Book.” In this post, I will outline the rules that they give for analytical reading of imaginative literature. Imaginative literature encompasses some of “easiest” (e.g. novels) and “hardest” (e.g. epic poems) literature to read. I put those descriptors in quotes because the genres assumed “easy” are often harder than they appear, and the ones assumed “hard” are often easier than they appear. Without further ado, here are the rules: Continue reading “Let the Reader Understand, Part 2”

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Let the Reader Understand, Part 1

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

– Francis Bacon

Reading is perhaps one of the most significant activities a human can do. The capacities for language, rationality, and imagination are some of the characteristics that set mankind apart from other animals, and reading is one of the best way to cultivate those characteristics. It is even more important for Christians, because we believe that God wrote a book, thereby endowing the activities of reading and writing with a certain dignity and seriousness, and placing any who read that book under an obligation to understand it correctly. Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren have written a great book entitled, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. In it they give 15 rules for analytical reading of Expository books to help readers answer the four basic questions that all demanding readers must ask. Expository books are books written to communicate knowledge primarily in a propositional way; these rules do not apply directly to imaginative literature, however there are some equivalent rules for that genre as well which will take form the substance of a later post. Before proceeding to the rules, two qualifications must be made, first, many books are not worthy of this level of reading, the reader must read each book according to its merits; second, these rules describe an ideal performance of analytical reading which is the measure of achievement, such an ideal cannot always be reached but gives readers a goal to strive for and directions on how to proceed.

Continue reading “Let the Reader Understand, Part 1”

“My” Graduation Speech

It is an interesting exercise to think about what you would say if you were given the opportunity to speak at a graduation ceremony. Of course I have not been given that opportunity at Grove City, nor am sure that I would want it if it was offered. But if I was speaking at graduation this Saturday, I think this is what I would say: Continue reading ““My” Graduation Speech”

Does the Bible Talk About Church Music? Yes.

Colossians 3:16

Ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτούς, ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς ἐν [τῇ] χάριτι ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ θεῷ

The word of Christ, let it dwell [continually] in you (p) richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, [with] psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, in {the} grace singing in your (p) hearts to God.[1]

This verse has an incredible amount to say about how we worship God, specifically, how and why we sing in church. Corporate worship is an odd thing if you think about it, a group of people gathering together once a week to sing songs together and hear someone speak for 30-45 minutes from a text written 2000+ years ago. Yet it is what we are commanded to do, and singing is an important element of corporate worship. Churches show what they view as the most important elements of corporate worship by how much time they spend on them. In many churches, the amount of time given to singing is second only to the sermon, showing its place of high importance in corporate worship. However, while many Evangelicals would agree that preaching is a very important (if not the most important) element of a church service, many would not say so of singing. Statements such as, “it’s just a matter of opinion/taste” abound in the discussion of church music. Yet even the language of taste/preference implies a difference in the purpose that music is intended to achieve. Musicologists Paul Munson and Joshua Drake put it this way,

Consider the meaning of “taste” and “preference.” Are these not merely a sense that certain forms realize our purposes better than do other forms? Tim prefers a stationary bike so he can read as he exercises; Sally prefers a traditional bike so she can breathe fresh air and see the countryside. Tim prefers an orange for his snack so he can perceive its array of aromas, tastes, and textures; Sally prefers orange juice so she can quench her thirst. As with bikes and snacks, so, too, with everything: people with preferences may or may not be conscious of their purposes, but if they were to have no purpose at all—no end to attain—they wouldn’t have a preference. When Christians prefer different kinds of church music, it is because they disagree about what it is for. Different theologies of church music naturally result in different styles, as we search out the forms that most effectively realize our purposes.[2]

Continue reading “Does the Bible Talk About Church Music? Yes.”