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reading

At other places, Books + Stories
On the importance of reading fiction; or, yes read your book!
May 4, 2017 at 9:07 am 1

Is reading a "guilty pleasure" or is it something more? Can reading fiction actually inform what we love and how we act?

  I'd love for you to read my latest piece for The Well, where I give you permission (as if you needed it) to pick up a book. Rather than scrolling through our Facebook or Instagram feeds, reading really does enable us to be more human. Here's a snippet: 
When the twin towers fell on September 11, I was an ocean away in England. I was spending most of every waking hour studying and reading medieval literature, but now my thoughts felt jumbled, and I wondered: did my academic work mean anything when terrorists attacked my homeland? Wasn’t studying — reading, really — superfluous, privileged, esoteric? Does reading matter when the world feels like it’s falling apart?
 
Reading fiction gives us a ticket to step outside the world of the marketplace where meaning is derived from economic transactions. When we immerse ourselves in good writing, we stake a claim that beauty matters. Instead of buying something online with a click of a button or turning the television on and off, I must engage my mind and heart in a book. A book becomes more than simply an escape or a pretty object to put on your shelf that makes you appear learned. It is more than a product. When we engage with the world of the novel, we place worth in beauty, grace, and the promise of transformation. When we read, we say that meaning is more than money and that money can be used in service to good art.
  Read the rest here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts. How has reading changed you? What are your own practices of reading? Do you read more fiction or non-fiction? 
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At other places, Faith + Vulnerability
5 Tips to Develop a Healthy Habit: Read Your Bible (for iBelieve)
March 13, 2017 at 5:08 am 0
I'm a pastor's wife and I have a hard time reading my Bible every day. There I said it. It's actually the thing I'm trying to focus on during Lent this year -- how to create a small habit that I know will feed me. To that end, I've written a short article on some tips to develop a habit of reading daily. I think I'm still revolting over those little check-boxes Bible reading plans in my youth -- how the boxes became the reason to read through the Bible more than any other love. But we can also make the mistake of waiting around for lovey dovey feelings before we start something new. This is yet another way to fall off the wagon. Sometimes the discipline comes first, sometimes the feelings do. But to start any habit we need to help till the soil for growth to happen. And just like exercise and diet, we make small changes that add up:
I love to fit into my skinny jeans, but I also really love to eat good food. When my pants start to get a bit tight, I’m faced with a dilemma: will I change my eating habits or not? Deciding is never a question of knowledge: I don’t need to know more about nutrition, or even plan out a rigorous diet if I want to lose ten pounds. More information and more advice will never affect change. What I need for change is to be captured by a greater love. I need to want to be healthy and fit into my jeans more than I want to eat chocolate cake. Being physically healthy is made up of a thousand small decisions about how I talk about my body, what I put into it and how I exercise it. We change when we are captured by a greater love. Our spiritual lives are no different: to change we must pay attention to what we put in to our souls. If we say that God’s Word should shape our lives, then we need to move around in it. It needs to shape us. And it can’t shape us until we’ve first developed a healthy habit of simply reading it.
  I'm over at iBelieve with "How to Develop Healthy Bible Reading Habits: 5 Tips." And don't worry, they're fun.   
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At other places, Books + Stories
Cue the superhero music: Reading CAN change the world
August 16, 2016 at 10:12 am 0
Reading can change the world -- aahales.com

My towering bedside reading

I read a lot. Sometimes I even get to write about what I read. And since I think that reading has become both more commonplace (we always have our phones out when we have 2.5 seconds of free mental space), it's also become harder to read slowly, well, and with intention. Never fear! There's a book about that! C. Chris Smith, the editor for Englewood Review of Books, wrote a book called Reading for the Common Good. Do you wonder how reading really can change the world? Does it feel inconsequential or escapist to pick up a book these days? How might reading affect our neighborhoods and churches? This isn't about a cheesy Christian book club. This is a book that is about reorienting ourselves as a community, towards the flourishing of our neighborhoods and we can do it in small, daily, routines -- like reading. Take a look at my review over at The Well. It's geared for Christian women academics -- so as a #MamaPhD, I have a lot in common with that audience -- and yet, it's a great book to pick up no matter your vocation. Here's a snippet: Books were always my first love. As an only child, I spent my childhood wrapped in novels with the sounds of Disney’s Electric Parade on the background. It seemed only natural that my love for reading catapulted me into studying English as an undergraduate and then on to a master’s and Ph.D in literature. In all the focus on theory and dissecting novels like biology experiments, it became easy to think that reading would always (and only) serve a particular end. Pleasure and learning were subsumed into how a book was useful, how it perpetuated ideological categories. I wish I had had C. Christopher Smith’s new book, Reading for the Common Good, in those heady graduate school years as a gentle guide to reading for others. Smith’s book, Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish, is the practical outworking of the Editor of The Englewood Review of Books’ previous co-authored book, Slow Church. Where Slow Church left off — advocating a return to incarnational living in church community rather than the McDonaldization of attractional churches — Reading for the Common Good continues. In it, Smith centers the local church; he writes: “For disciples of Jesus, our first and primary vocation is to follow in the way of Jesus as part of a church community.” How do individuals living their vocation within the context of their churches and communities begin to flourish? How do we slow down, invite conversation, and practice ethical, intentional discipleship? How do we learn to love the places where God has put us? Smith argues that reading buttresses the common good. In many ways it seems ludicrous that the idea of reading is a revolutionary and transformative act. Isn’t it too basic for that? For most women in the academy, reading has been part and parcel of a way of life, simply the water we swim in. // Read more at The Well! While you're at it, make sure you've signed up for my email newsletter. You get a free guide to telling your story and more goodness coming soon! --AH  
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