For this post, we return to Veith’s book Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature. Throughout Chapter 1, Veith emphasizes that the Word of God and reading are foundational to Christianity. God has revealed himself in His Word and reading the Scriptures is one of the foundational aspects of a Christian and flourishing society. Veith also writes in-depth about how viewing screens and consuming media is changing both society and the habits of the mind and man has made “electronically graven images” out of media. He lays out how he sees a shallowness within society developing that he ties back to media and regularly quotes Neil Postman from his book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Read discerningly as Veith shows that the danger of common grace has seeped into his thinking when he supports religious drama as a means to redeem the sinful use of drama by the world.
Here are some quotes from this chapter:
“Will reading become obsolete? Some people think that with the explosion of video technology, the age of the book is almost over.” (pg. 17) (For more on this, I suggest reading Chuck Terpstra’s blog post “A Plea to Read — Reformed Perspective”)
“The centrality of the Bible means that the very act of reading can have spiritual significance. Whereas other religions may stress visions, experiences, or even the silence of meditation as the way to achieve contact with the divine, Christianity insists on the role of language” (pg. 17)
“Just as human beings address God by means of language through prayer, God addresses human beings by means of language in the pages of Scripture. Prayer and Bible reading are central to a personal relationship with God. Christians have to be, in some sense, readers.” (pg. 18)
“It is no exaggeration to say that reading has shaped our civilization more than almost any other factor and that a major impetus to reading has been the Bible.” (pg. 19)
“Like the ancient Israelites, we live in ‘the land of graven images,’ amidst a people who are ‘mad upon their idols’ (Jeremiah 50:38). Also like them, we subtly drift into the ways of ‘the people fo the land’ unless we are rescued by the Word of God.” (pg. 24)
“Christians must become conscious of how the image-centered culture is pulling them in non-Christian directions. The priority of language for Christians must be absolute. As the rest of society abandons language-centeredness for image-centeredness, we can expect to feel the pressures and temptations to conform, but we must resist. One way to do this is simply to read.” (pg. 25)
“A growing problem is illiteracy—many peoples do not know how to read. A more severe problem, though, is ‘aliteracy’—a vast number of people who know how to read but never do it.” (pg. 25)
We can be thankful for the emphasis on reading in our Protestant Reformed schools. Families and Boards need to continue to support and emphasize our school libraries. I am encouraged by the many classrooms that I walk into and see shelves of books. By the grace of God, may our schools continue to be beacons for reading the Word and consuming books and other good Christian literature.
Quoted from Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and published by Crossway Books in 1990. These quotes are found in the Preface (pgs. xiii-xvi).