When you don’t understand what you’re reading, keep reading. It’s called learning and it’s not supposed to be easy. The ancients used to say mathein pathein, which in Greek means “to learn is to suffer.”
Think about people whose writing style or depth of content stretches your brain. I first read C.S. Lewis in high school and couldn’t get through his paragraph-long sentences. I got lost in all the Russian names of my first Dostoevsky novel. For the life of me I can’t understand poetry beyond Dr Seuss. But I keep reading and find that I can grasp more today than ever before.
Think also about people who write things we disagree with or think are so dumb it’s baffling someone could actually believe them.
If you lean left and come across an article that questions whether welfare actually helps poor folks, or argues that while equal in worth men and women are designed for different roles, or rips open the logic that an actual living human being is someone else’s physical and legal property to be disposed of at will, don’t hastily write off the writer as unenlightened. Keep reading.
If you lean right and read someone who claims that big corporations are more dangerous than big governments, or that your favorite way to describe the Bible is less than helpful, or that Christians shouldn’t say the pledge of allegiance, don’t get angry at this evil person and their preposterous positions. Keep reading.
It may hurt. But you will learn.
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NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #24 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.