Reading Hard Books
I’m reading John Piper’s God’s Passion for His Glory in my quiet times these days. Recently, I read this quote of Mortimer Adler’s thought in his How to Read a Book, which I thought was so good for us homeschooling moms to ponder.
[Adler] makes a passionate case that the books that enlarge our grasp of truth and make us wiser must feel, at first, beyond us. They ‘must make demands on you. They must seem to you to be beyond your capacity.’ If a book is easy and fits nicely into all your language conventions and thought forms, then you probably will not grow much from reading it. It may be entertaining, but not enlarging to your understanding. It’s the hard books that count. raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.
Evangelical Christians, who believe God reveals himself primarily through a book, the Bible, should long to be the most able readers they can be. This means that we should want to become clear, penetrating, accurate, fair-minded thinkers, because all good reading involves asking questions and thinking. this is one reason why the Bible teaches us, ‘Do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature’ (1 Cor. 14:20 RSV). It’s why Paul said to Timothy, ‘Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything’ (2 Tim. 2:7). God’s gift of understanding is through thinking, not instead of thinking.
I so agreed with the above! It’s a great articulation of the core goal for Tapestry of Grace studies. I have labored for 15 years (can’t believe it’s really been that long!) to make it possible for homeschooling parents who did not grow up challenged by the Great Books (or familiar with them) to nonetheless approach them and gain confidence to require their children to struggle with them and thus grow into mature thinkers. The parents who thus tackle these Great Books later in life have written me over and over to thank me for not only what their students are learning (and how they are blossoming into great thinkers) but also for the added richness in their own minds as parents grow from wrestling these books to the ground. In this I rejoice, and I just wanted to give God the glory for the sweet fruit of reading hard books!