• Book Reviews,  Growing as a Leader

    C.S. Lewis on Reading Old Books

    C.S. Lewis got it right in his assessment of benefits and the necessity of reading old books. Now I just need to do a better job of following his advice.

    “There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should be content himself with the modern books….This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology….Now this seems to me to be topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old….it is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read on old one to every three new ones….We all…need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books….We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century…lies where we have never suspected it….None of us can fully escape this blindness….The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

    Quoted by John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory, from C.S. Lewis’ “On Reading of Old Books” in God in the Dock

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership

    Life After Graduation

    “Now that you’ve finished your master’s degree what are you going to do?”

    That’s the question I’ve been asked a dozen times since this past Friday when I graduated from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. I’ve felt a bit like the Super Bowl winning quarterback when the reporter asks, “now that you’ve won the Super Bowl what are you going to do?” Of course the quarterback always answers’, “I’m going to Disney World”.

    Now that’s not been my answer. Instead, if I’ve had a moment, I’ve responded by sharing all the things I’ve pushed to the “back burner” during this program, including – trout fishing on opening day, taking care of a very bad lawn, tackling the ever-growing list of house projects, and most importantly, reading what I want to read and writing what I want to write, and do so in my timing.

    My Systematic Theology professors, Dr Grinnell (left) and Dr. Wittmer (right)

    But don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret for a moment the work, effort and commitment needed to complete this program. I gained much more than I ever anticipated in essential knowledge for my work at SpringHill (which was one of my primary goals in pursuing a seminary degree).

    Plus I’ve had the satisfaction of living out, in a more formal way, one of my personal “core values” – lifelong learning. And it’s because of this core value that I’ll most deeply miss the opportunity I’ve had to sit in class, and be challenged intellectually and spiritually by both my classmates and professors.

    It’s also probably why a couple of people, who know me well, have said they don’t think this will be the last of my formal education.

    Well they may be right, but for now, I’m going to see if I can catch a few Brookies in the stream near our house.

  • Growing as a Leader

    Why I’m Still in School

    Wednesday mornings this school year I’ll be in class finishing up my MA in Ministry Leadership. I’m not sure I’m the oldest student in class but, if I’m not, I’m certainly near the end of the age curve.

    Which is no big deal, but it has caused me to think…

    Or when I’m doing homework – reading many pages of theology or writing papers – instead of let’s say, steelhead fishing or working on house projects, I’ve thought more than once….

    Why am I doing this?

    But it doesn’t take long to fill in the blanks, because I’ve always known the answer.

    It’s simply because I love to learn. It’s one of my personal core values.

    That’s why I read what I read, it’s also why I’m occasionally taking up new hobbies and it’s why I’ve committed myself to finishing this portion of my education.

    I believe learning’s a lifelong pursuit because God and the people and the world He’s created are His gifts to us and the best way to appreciate these gifts (and Him) is to continually learn more about them.

    Also, truth be told, I’m a bit afraid of growing stale. I’ve convinced myself that if I continue to pursue learning I can stop the cobwebs from gathering and keep my mind and spirit young even as my body grows old.

    Then there’s the stewardship God’s given me here at SpringHill. One of our core values is “we’re a learning and mission-driven organization”. So if this value’s to be a part of the fabric of SpringHill it needs to start with me. We can only be “a learning organization” when I’m “a learning leader”.

    So why am I still sitting in a classroom? Well, for all the reasons above and, simply, I just can’t help myself.

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