One of my commitments to the new year is to read more. I’m a realistic reader, often just letting it happen when I “have time.” But many weeks will go by and I haven’t challenged myself intellectually. When I was younger, I committed to reading two books a week, and I’m upping my commitment here in 2015. I don’t write this to shed light on myself, but to challenge you to join me.
You’re Never Too Old
Learning about the world and exploring the vastness of the Universe is crucial to our understanding of those we deal with day-to-day. Education and Intellectual stimulation can often be one of those things reserved for school children, or University Students, and then something happens when we get caught up in our day-to-day existence. We focus on whatever is right in front of us, and we forget that learning is something that happens for a lifetime.
School is just the foundation set for a lifetime of learning, and to be fully human, we need to embrace our responsibility to learn what we don’t know, explore ideas that are different from the one’s we hold today, and challenge our minds to keep moving. Much like a muscle group in your body, if you let your mind stay static for too long of time, you’ll find yourself unable to think about some o the issues that are important to our world.
A Lesson from a Renaissance Man
Reading Leonardo DaVinci has always been intriguing to me. A Painter, an artist, an engineer, and a dreamer, DaVinci had some sort of comprehensive desire to learn about all facets of our world. He didn’t know everything when he began his long career of learning, but he took slow small intentional steps to become a man who was able to understand a WIDE variety of disciplines.
I’ve had conversations with DaVinci like guys in my life, and I’m always moved when someone can talk football, philosophy, and fashion without skipping a beat. Sure, there are people who are just smarter than others, and have a mental hunger and capacity to retain information; but most of the people who have this ability are people committed to reading, thinking, and processing things they’re interested in knowing. They question life. They’re not afraid to fail. And, they engage with other “interesting people” who have similar desires to figure out the world around them.
The Dangers of Echo Chambers
If you’re not someone who’s challenging your intellectual growth, there’s a danger on the horizon. The Danger is quite simple. If you’re satisfied with ‘knowing’ about a particular subject by listening to the soundbites on a 24 hour news agency, you’re at risk for developing an echo chamber.
The Echo Chamber is the place where you take in information that confirms the positions you already have about the way the world spins. For example: If you’re a conservative type person, and the only news channel you watch is FOX NEWS, you’re never going to be able to see another side of the political conversation because you’ll be caught in the Echo Chamber of hearing what you already know. The same could be true if you’re a liberal political person and you only tune into MSNBC.
Spiritually, if you’re not challenging yourself with the thoughts and ideas of others, you’re simply going to find a church or small group that provides you confirmation on what you already think you know. I’ve heard Christians say, “I only read the Bible. Everything I need to know is right there between Genesis and Revelation.” And although I believe it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of religious books, there are as many opinions about what the Bible says as there are denominations in the world. (At current estimation there are over 3500 different brands of ‘Christian’ around the world.)
Reading Dissenting Opinions
So for 2015, another one of my New Year’s Goals is to read 2 books a week that differ from what I already think about a topic. I’ll try and review at least one of them a week, or maybe focus on the good one’s I read during the month; but important to me (and hopefully you) we can begin to learn how and why the world spins the way it does.
We can train our political positions.
We can learn how people process religion.
We may have the chance to learn about science, philosophy, or maybe something as easy as home repair this year.
So, as I challenge myself, let me challenge you…Let’s pick up our reading this week. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing, so I can keep on track. I believe the more people who join us, the better we’ll do.