Philip Yancey on Reading, and Poetry

     How do we carve time from our busy schedules to read to understand something? Philip Yancey's post "Reading Wars" examines the issue. He is an evangelical Christian writer who sounds to me like a Lutheran, which is great in my book!

     For years I felt that I had no time for reading, let alone writing. Weekly sermons, civilian and military educational needs, lesson plans, and much more pushed out the muse. I had about a 20 -year break from writing poetry because the last thing I wanted to do was to listen to the muse.

     Now we are assaulted by so many visual stimuli when we read. Technology, a two-edged sword if there ever was one, overwhelms us with visual distractors which make reading difficult. Especially, I would add, a text of some complexity.

     In some education circles, "experts" tell us that reading is reading, be it a sports section from the newspaper, a comic book, beach reading, or a classic novel. I disagree, but the administration does not care. some colleagues say that as long as students read anything it's fine.

    But if they do not move on to more complicated texts, that is bad, I am not talking about reading metaphysics. It is important to understand the nuances of a news story or op-ed column, or to figure out which pickup truck to buy.

     My wife read the Yancey post and told me that he spoke about poetry as well. Too much "poetry" is merely prose with different spacings. He selects some excellent poets.

I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.