Thursday, January 10, 2008

Confession, Realization

For all my condemnations of multitasking, I realized this morning--sitting amidst stack and rows of endless books surrounding my reading (prayer) chair--that I am a multitasker. No, I don't yak on the cell phone while checking out at the grocery store. I don't send text messages while listening to a sermon (because I don't "text" at all). I don't do anything else while watching television (because I don't watch television at all). But I do multitask (if I can make that into a verb).

The problem is that I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, various kinds of knowledge pertaining mostly to the humanities. Thus, I read too many books at the same time. It took me a full ten minutes this morning to remember where I had recently read something about orality and ancient Greek culture. (It was from J. Pelikan's, Who Owns the Bible?) The thought was stirred by reading Eugene Peterson's masterful Eat This Book, another book I am part way through. Please don't ask me to count how many... If you go back enough years, it gets really depressing. (Of course, some books do not deserve to be finished.)

One's strength is often, paradoxically, also one's flaw, as the ancient Greeks pointed out. A quest for knowledge for the glory of God (if one has certain gifts) is laudable. There are too many Christian ignoramuses around, and they are making far too much noise and selling too many books and making too many videos. However, distributing one's attention too broadly is unwise. Disciplined study requires limits, boundaries--saying No to much, saying Yes to less.


jcubsdad said...

I share your enthusiasm for books, and Eat This Book is an incredible one.

I can't give much advise except lock the cabinet with the books and only let the wife open it for you to get a new book? (I know, the advise is unsolicited)

Anonymous said...

Dough, I understand:

If I had gone back to 2006 as well, the list would have doubled.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

"Tommy Matthews," who posted under another name is banned from this blog.

Brian said...

Doug, I know what you mean! It sure helps while studying to try to keep my current reading list short to keep my mind filled with as much of a single subject as possible.

One more thing - are you really a multi-tasker? Wouldn't that mean that you would need to be switching back and forth between books while reading them? My understanding of multitasking is that someone tries to get more done by doing many things at once (i.e., talking on the phone while writing emailing and listening to the radio). Does having many books you are "working on" mean you're a multi-tasker? Methinks you just have such an appetite for knowledge that you want to take the next bite before swallowing the previous!

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I don't read two books at once if you mean having two open and reading back and forth!