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on reading

What I have learned from about twenty-years of serious reading is this: It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%

John Piper, from the sermon “Quantitative Hopelessness and the Immeasurable Moment”

Piper addresses a different kind of quantitative hopelessness in the sermon, but my own pertains to the slow pace of my reading as compared to my exponentially growing reading list. Couple my snail’s pace with how little I remember in the long run, and it becomes apparent why I am often frustrated and disheartened about my reading habits and the discipleship of my mind.

I think I am more frustrated by lack of long-term retention than lack of speed. There is just no way I will ever be able to read all the books I want to read; and that’s okay. My quantitative hopelessness was dashed by the realization that as good as rich theology books are, I am still beholding in a mirror dimly what others have themselves beheld in a mirror dimly. But one day I will see face to face.

And pertaining to lack of retention, I am learning to not begrudge the 99%.


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1 Comment

  1. Found your blog via Twitter because of Nick Norelli. Anyway, don’t be discouraged. The more you read carefully, the better you’ll get at retaining.



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