Magazine article The Christian Century

Stimulus Package

Magazine article The Christian Century

Stimulus Package

Article excerpt

If the economic recession has made people more receptive to spiritual concerns and theological insights, that interest has not translated into sales of religion books (see Marcia Nelson's report on p. 12). In fact, religion book sales have gone down while sales of romance novels have gone up (by $3 million in the last quarter of 2008). Apparently, when it comes to books, people are seeking escape more than spiritual support.

Book sales overall are down somewhat, though this doesn't necessarily mean that people are reading less, novelist Ann Patchett argues in an article in the Wall Street Journal. They may be using their local libraries more or sharing books with one another. The National Endowment for the Arts reported that interest in fiction is actually up for the first time in more than 25 years--even among the 18-to-25 age group, for whom the iPod is standard equipment.

We may not be able to do much about our economic circumstances these days, but we can do something about our spiritual response to them, and books remain a crucial resource. Historically, Christians, like Jews, have emphasized the role of the written word in edification and formation. There is more that we need to know about God's world and word. And while we have been saved by grace, there is much room for spiritual growth.

It seems fitting therefore that Christians have developed a spiritual discipline of slow reading called lectio divina, a way of reading meditatively in which the text examines our own lives as much as we examine the text. …

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