I’ve noticed something about what I’m writing these days. It is influenced greatly by what I’m reading. So, get ready. I’m re-reading Chesterton’s In Defense of Sanity, again.
G.K. Chesterton was a newspaper editor in England at the turn of the 20th century, but really far more. He had an amazing sense of humor, yet could draw from simple thought reams of theological and ideological gold.
With apologies to Lloyd Benson, if G.B. Shaw were here he might say – “I knew Chesterton. Chesterton was a friend of mine. You’re no Chesterton.” And, he would be right. I’m not, nor will I ever be.
Chesterton writes these amazing sentences that extract meanings from the strangest objects, like a piece of white chalk. Who writes about white chalk? GKC.
So, in Chesterton style, I am in the fourth paragraph of this essay and you still have no idea what I’m saying, but it appears I’m saying something. I could describe the noise my fan is making and draw some conclusion. I could outline my breakfast in great detail for the purpose of a single point. Nothing illustrates life quite like a Pop Tart.
Ah, but I’m not Chesterton.
But, that’s not the point. The point is that I tend to think in the rhythms of what I’m reading. I suspect you do too. So, what are you reading right now? What words are you allowing into your psyche and into your soul?
We’re such a visual generation — HD video at that. The problem with only visual ingestion is that nothing is left to our imagination. When Chesterton describes the piece of white chalk he discovered while sitting on a hillside, I see the chalk, the picture he is drawing, and the hillside where he is drawing it. I can even see the landscape of the village where he is sitting for his respite. At the end of his essay, I can see the point he is making as well. If there had been a Facebook live video of the chalk, I would have seen the piece of chalk, but would have observed far less.
If you are someone that wants to write – blogs, books, or songs – you’d better be someone who reads. As a matter of fact, if you are a communicator at any level, you should have a steady supply of words coming into your soul through books.
Read Chesterton, Lewis, Elliot, Bonhoeffer. Find contemporaries like Rainer, Platt, Wax, Geiger, or Kelly – people who think and write. By all means, read the Getty book on congregational singing that’s coming out later this year.
Your songs will be better. For that matter, your conversations will be better.
You might even talk about something that matters.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.