Woo! Movies, video games, music! It’s a pop culture extravaganza! Summer is here!
Um, no thanks.
The fact is, I’m not a wildly excitable person. In fact, I’m downright grumpy about buying into cultural events. So, perhaps not surprisingly, it falls to me to examine the somewhat unusual concept of, “summer reading.”
This immediately presents a problem, because our interaction with books is far different from movies. A book lasts longer, rarely gets as much initial fanfare, and does not really improve as technology improves (giving it a lot more competition from older books). Thus, when we talk about summer reading, we have to focus on HOW people read because it is not relevant to merely examine the most recent books.
This examination may seem unhelpful, because as Rich mentioned in a recent podcast, for most of us the summertime should not seem much different. We do the same jobs, keep similar schedules, pay the same bills, and manage to appreciate or complain about the weather.
But for some reason, we DO read differently. I spent a good amount of time asking friends and acquaintances whether summer reading is inherently different, and the answer was usually yes. I followed this up by asking how it is different, and the responses were revealing:
“Well, I usually read easier stuff during summer.”
“I don’t want to read depressing books when it’s so pretty outside.”“I need the chapters to be short so I can read in-between activities.”
“It can’t be too long or I’ll lose interest.”
In other words, people specifically choose summer reading materials to fit a faster-paced, less serious, more activity driven lifestyle.
Now, I have no particular problem with that. I love that my wife and I can play tennis, or go for walks, or take my son to the park. It’s great that friends can have get-togethers where people don’t have to jam into a small apartment but can have a barbecue outside and play Frisbee. Taking advantage of wonderful weather is a good thing!
But it does not excuse us from being wise about what we read and how that reading shapes our understanding of God’s world. We are not allowed to check out of thoughtfulness, and we are not being good stewards of God’s gifts if we waste a quarter to a third of our year on reading material that has little value or whose effects we do not consider.
So with that in mind, I begin my own CAPC Summer of Pop-Culture-Type Reading (I’m not good with names, so sue me). My goal is simple; to read and enjoy the sorts of books other people read in the summer time, and to attempt to model how that can be done in a way that suits the summer months but still makes room for thoughtful interaction and insight. Or, put more simply;
1. To enjoy
2. To consider carefully
3. To compare to the Christian worldview
I look forward to sharing this summer of reading with you.