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Academically-induced brain overscratch

I used to read voraciously. Grad school seems to have cured me of that, even though I technically read more now than ever before. As is fairly obvious, reading for school is much different than reading on one's own. I used to read a lot of spiritually-based books, and loved them. I still dGod's Big Messy Scrapbooko read some of these kinds of things, but now it is much different. Before, much of what I was reading was this:
  1. Organic. I read stuff that I discovered, or was recommended to me by people I respected. Some things I am required to read now are things that I have read or would have read before, but them being on a required list seems to take all the sense of discovery out of it. Before, I would love to explore the shelves of my student center's library, which very well may have found me reading something heavily academic for a while, but because I wanted to. I have yet to take Restoration History in grad school, but became fascinated with this topic as an undergrad state school business student when I pulled some old Pepperdine Lectureship tapes off the shelf one day and started listening to Richard Hughes. As a result I read much of his Reviving the Ancient Faith long before I ever thought about becoming a ministry student and saw that this was required upper level grad school reading.
  2. Contained some sense of wonder. I loved to read things that were spiritually transformative, and approached life and faith with a sense of mission mixed with deep thought. Now my reading is heavy in academic analytical-critical, and is dominated by those who seem to stand above their subject material as if they are masters of ideas. I don't mean to disparage this kind of reading, but I have lost interest in buying most of my books and now get them from the library every semester.
  3. Reading for its own sake. There is a subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) atmosphere in a place like theological academia that makes the individual vie for power by being able to reference authors. The more you can throw into a conversation or a class comment (from both students and professors), the more respect you can garner. What is amusing and depressing at the same time is seeing people compete to see who can prove the most thoroughly that they have no original ideas.
I hope to regain my love for reading. Old used bookstores are some of my most favorite places on earth. And, every now and then, when I am digging through the library shelves to locate the obscure festschriften that has a paper on some far out exegetical concept that I need, I will find myself sitting on the stool in the aisle, reading through some book on a nearby shelf that caught my eye and interest. Some book that I will never quote from and will probably never find again. But, in the moment, some kind of curious brain itch was simultaneously activated and satisfied by a previously unknown chunk of writing. This is the kind of reading that really enriches the life.


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