Tuesday, October 26, 2010


     There will be a famine in the land, not for bread, says Amos, but for the Word of the Lord.  God's people would be hungry, unable to fill their souls and be satisfied.  I'm beginning to think we live in a hungry time.
     We've been watching Ken Burns' National Parks series and I am awed by the powerful prose of John Muir, lover of the wilderness and wildness.  John Muir, so literate in the true Word, infused his writing with Biblical images and crafted verses in praise of the temples and cathedrals of Nature.  He claims to have memorized all of the New Testament and two-thirds of the Old by the time he was eleven.
    I think our standard of literacy has changed.  Frances Ridley Havergal, who wrote Take My Life and Let it Be, mem­o­rized the Psalms, Isai­ah, and most of the New Test­a­ment.  I can only wonder how.
     This isn't a minority opinion.  Classical Christian educators have written about our culture's failure to join in the "Great Conversation" of Western Culture.  The unbeliever of today doesn't have the Biblical background to understand all of the nuanced references to the Word that the writers and artists of the past employed.  We all, I'm sure, know even Christians who seem to comfortably wed a love for Christ with Biblical illiteracy.
     But in a famine, food is costlier and more scarce for all.  What if I think myself full, but am emaciated and weak?  What if all the reading, studying and memorizing I've done is but a crumb from a well supplied table?
     We had a Sabbath School teacher once who spoke of the hours we've invested knowing God increasing our capacity to enjoy Him throughout eternity.  He said God fills every cup to overflowing, but how big is our cup?  I think that I come greedy for the goodness of God, and hold out my cup, like a German beer stein.  What if I find it's a thimble?

1 comment:

  1. You know, I lot of my favorite novelists use tons of biblical imagery and language! I think you've hit the nail right on the head. Even lots of memorizing won't do much good if we don't think about it and interpret our lives in the terms, categories, and imagery of God's word.

    As an aside, I also totally agree on your verdict of pseudo-literacy. You used to have to recite what you had read verbatim. Now, teachers ask to hear your response to a text, without much talk about the text itself! If you're not internalizing what you read, how literate can you be? I struggle with this all the time because my teachers make me read 1000 pages a week (which means it's impossible to read carefully). The result is a vague impression of everything you've read but little retention. As my Greek professor reminds the students all the time, we've never had so many resources and such little interest.

    Awesome post, I look forward to reading more!