Yeah, I really do think that. Book learnin’ is optional. You don’t need it, in the strictest sense. Life is pretty simple, at its root: be nice, survive, take it easy. Everything else is superfluous — but what a delightful superfluousness it can be! We can take in the sights, sounds, and other sense vehicles and revel in their gleeful terrors. It’s part of living. Reading, art, and all other aspects of culture — these are the bon-bons of being human. Even religion is extra.
And yet you’ll notice I am big on culture. All aspects of it, from the above mentioned to all the rest of it — movies, TV, even language itself — I enjoy devouring most days of the week.
As for reading — specifically reading the bible and other religious and philosophical tracts — I engage in these things because of what they can help me to un-learn. I feel language is at its best when it at once expands one’s mind and simplifies matters — when it can present new viewpoints, as well as cast pleasant doubt on the entrenched assumptions that run my internal mentality program. I like it when a new discovery can effectively cancel out an old belief.
And that’s where I feel reading and writing as it pertains to Christianity is at its best — when it disabuses us of old notions that are holding us back from being nice, surviving, and taking it easy. It’s like unraveling a knot of yarn a mile in diameter. It’s an eternal, sometimes tedious process — but one that can be enjoyable, if we develop a habit of it.
I don’t ever want to stop learning. But I pray that all this book learnin’ leads always in the direction of inner peace for myself, that I might help others to be at peace in themselves as well.
Image via TIPical Day