A poster one sees in Kenya proclaims, “Literacy for Improved Food Production!” I don’t doubt that improved food production is a worthy goal and literacy can help attain it, I told the students of St. Philip’s Secondary School in Kitale. But there is so much more to reading than that! Reading makes available three things that are hard to access without it: the Word of God, the world of ideas, and the world of imagination.
The Word of God contains the personal revelation of the Creator of the Universe, including His wisdom, His commandments, His love, and His plan for the salvation and eternal fulfillment of His creatures. The world of ideas gives us the cumulative experience and thinking of the human race as it follows or rebels against the Word of God in its history, its science, its philosophy. The world of imagination shows us the stirrings of the human spirit, stimulating our own spirits to make creative applications of what we learn from Scripture, history, and science.
Any of the three worlds to which reading gives us access—Scripture, Ideas, Imagination—can expand the mind in such a way as to facilitate things yet undreamt of (including better food production). When we combine them together, their capacity to do so is increased exponentially. So pursue the adventure of reading with all your might, both in school and out of it! It was Newman’s Idea of a University recycled impromptu for an African context: not a bad exhortation for Americans, either.
Remember: for more commentary like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds, Inklings of Reality, and/or Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical poems and essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books!
Donald T. Williams, PhD