“It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes” (Deuteronomy 17:19).
Even with the advent of digital books, a report by the National Endowment of the Arts reveals that Americans aren’t just reading fewer books, but are reading less and less of everything, in any medium. Americans have become so averse to reading that one 2006 study indicated that among 15-24-year-olds only seven minutes was spent reading on weekdays, 10 minutes on Saturday and Sundays, while spending two-and-a-half hours a day watching television. Before you dismiss these startling statistics with “Ahh, these young people today…” there is only a minimal “uptick” in the numbers for any of the older population segments.
While such data offers ample warning to the general declining literacy of the nation, it is also the major contributing factor to the waning biblical literacy that occupies the pews of the nation’s churches. A working knowledge of scripture is best realized by the discipline of reading. When the Apostle Paul extended the challenge, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15), the expectation was that Timothy would daily immerse himself in the sacred text.
I am not without hope. If Oprah’s endorsement of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina can drive this classic tome to the top of the best-seller list, anything is possible. What it requires is a passionate thirst and desire to know and understand the heart, mind, and purposes of God…”As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1)