Here is a practice I have found of great value these days:
I purpose not to call a lie what God has said is true, even by my actions and reactions. The more I feed my mind healthy truth and the less I take in the enculturation that surrounds me, the easier this task becomes. And the stronger—and more confident—I become.
Right now my mind is wrapping itself around a couple of interviews I read and saw yesterday morning with Tim Sanders. Powerful, important stuff. The world is offering us sludge and God is offering us Living Water. Tim shows us how to filter out the former and bask in the latter.
In addition to biblical truths, I’m growing in my conviction that we need to surround ourselves with beauty. Not materialistic or shallow beauty, but genuine beauty. Craftsmanship. Nature. Music. Literature. That’s why I’m a bit puzzled by the emphasis on NON-fiction in Tim’s list. I am forever indebted to the tree house in Swiss Family Robinson. The bravery of Atticus Finch (along with—especially along with—his ability to reach past the prejudices of his world and see the story behind the story). The rough sweetness of Huck Finn. Or the danger of sleeping while the world is binding you up with Gulliver Threads. These are word pictures and lessons as powerful—and useful—as anything you’ll find in a work of non-fiction. And they last longer.
I think there are two factors in the “nutritional value” of literature:
- Is it actually nutritional? Which, for me, is part of the definition of “great” as it applies to what we read. Think fruits and vegetables vs. Twinkies. Most popular fiction doesn’t require thinking, just like Twinkies don’t take much digesting. Now that I think of it, most popular non-fiction is the same way. What is typical among best-sellers is quick, Sesame Street bursts of unconnected thought.
- Do we actively engage as we read? We can read the Bible, for instance, for the quick comfort it brings us, or for information, or because we think it pleases God to do so. But do we grapple with it (like Jacob grappled with God)? Do we mull it over, meditating on it “in the watches of the night”? Does it—or any work of literature, fiction or non-fiction—permeate our minds and hearts?
Philippians 4:8 (New American Standard Bible)
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.