How to read well and fast, and maybe smart

Or, if you don’t like the title above, try this one: How to read a 500 page book in 30 minutes! And retain 90 percent of what you read!

That’s the come-on which led some of us to pay for the Evelyn Wood speed-reading course some years back.  It was not money well spent in my judgement, although I did discover how a few people in this world manage to pull that off.  (If your experience with that course was better than mine, congratulations.)

A friend who is an editor for a Christian news service suggested that, since I’m a constant reader, I should blog about how to read better and faster.  As a trained editor, she tends to read critically and thus slower than she’d like.

That hit me like the time another editor asked for an article on gluttony.  I had consumed three large meals that day.  But I thought, “Who better than me, who knows the subject so well?”  I wrote the article and it’s still circulating the globe in cyberspace.

So, I opened the laptop with the intention of pontificating on reading.  But first, I decided to put the question to my friends on Facebook.  How to read faster and more effectively.  The answers were many, some helpful and several silly.  For instance, the latter…

–Bob recommended the Jeff Foxworthy method of “reading more gooder fastly.”

–Ken suggested, “Rd onl fw ltrs, dnt dwl on evy wd.  Dnt gv u!”   Someone needs to buy Ken a vowel.

–Luther learned to cut his reading time in one-half, he says, by turning two pages at a time.

–Danny said, “Read just the opening topical sentence of each paragraph.”

–Ted: “Read the first two sentences and last sentence of each paragraph, and move on.”  (He may have been serious, I don’t know.)

Okay.  Back to the real world.  Here are my thoughts on the subject, followed by a few insights from my son Marty which I found helpful….

One.  Just get started.  Read something every day. I suspect that most people who read poorly or slowly simply aren’t reading, period.  As with everything else in the world, what we do rarely we necessarily do poorly.

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The creative process: What little I have learned

“In the beginning, God created….” (Genesis 1:1)

Real creativity is a God thing.

When you sit down to write or draw or whatever, remember that your Muse (the Spirit of God, the Original Muse!) has read it all and seen it all and inspired much of it, so He is your greatest Resource.

Those who want to learn to write should surround themselves with good writing (i.e., excellent reading material) and get to know inspired writers.

Those who want to think creatively should occasionally plant themselves among off-the-wall thinkers, people whose minds push the boundaries in every direction. They will loosen you up.

And then, pull back and spend a lot of time alone, thinking.

Go to bed thinking about whatever is bugging you, inspiring you, burdening you, pestering you, charming you, or puzzling you.  Your subconscious will keep at it while you recuperate.

If something occurs to you in the middle of the night, you absolutely must get up then and write it down.  If you plead that you are sleep deprived and insist that “this is such a great insight, I’ll surely remember it in the morning,” the single thing I can guarantee is that you will not remember it when the night is over.  Iron-clad promise.

You must get up when the idea occurs.  Write it down.

I am not suggesting you should live with the people whose minds are all over the place, whose thinking knows no limits, who challenge everything. Do this and you will soon lose touch with reality.

Just once in a while, associate with free-thinkers.

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Sometimes apologizing is not enough

“My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

Bill Glass played a full career with the Cleveland Browns as an All-Pro defensive end before retiring for another career spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his book Get in the Game, Bill Glass tells of the time his team was battling the St. Louis Cardinals (back when they were still in that city).

That day, Cleveland had St. Louis backed up to their own 5 yard line. Cardinal quarterback Charlie Johnson took the ball and was running around in the end zone looking for someone to throw it to. Meanwhile Bill Glass, right defensive end for Cleveland, was bearing down on him from his blind side, while Paul Wiggin, left end, was barreling toward Johnson from the other side.

It was a defensive end’s dream. They are about to sack the quarterback in his own end zone. This can be a game-changer. Bill could just hear the crowd cheering.  This was going to be great.

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Do people tell you not to read those books?

“Take up and read; take up and read.”  (from Confessions of Saint Augustine, chapter XII)

Read widely, pastor.

Read novels, how-to books, histories, biographies, and theological commentaries.

You don’t necessarily have to read the entire book to benefit.  You have only so much time and energy, and you want to put the emphasis on the more important readings.

What are the teens in your church reading?  Ask around, then give it a try.

By all means, read the Word of God.  Read some every day, and have a plan for your reading.  If you’ve never read through the Bible in a year, do it.  Do it several times in a row.  Thereafter, choose books of the Bible you’re unfamiliar with and fill in that gap of your education.

It used to bother me that my oldest son and my wife loved to read Stephen King novels.  Since King loves to get bizarre and even scary–think “Christine” and “Carrie”–in his plots, I felt that this was unhealthy reading for my wife and son.

I still think that.  Mostly.

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The truth about our heroes

No man is a hero to his valet.”  –attributed to Madame Cornuel in the 17th century, but probably an old French or English proverb.  But true nonetheless.

I’ve been reading Winston Groom’s “The Aviators.” Subtitle: “Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight.”  It’s an epic read itself, not one you can whiz through.  I’ve probably read a dozen other books while occasionally picking this one up and reading more. I finally finished it. The ending was noteworthy.

Winston Groom, you will recall, is the author of the Forrest Gump tale, a work of fiction.  However, he has done a fair number of histories, very readable accounts of the battle of New Orleans, the year 1942, the Civil War battle of Shiloh, the siege of Vicksburg in the same war, and so forth.  I’ve read most of them, and met him at a book signing in New Orleans maybe three years ago.  I suppose he was tired, because I was expecting a little more from him in the way of an engaging personality, great stories, and witticisms.  Anyway….

Here’s an interesting note from Charles Lindbergh.  On March 30, 1944–in the middle of the Second World War–he was preparing for a trip to the South Pacific for the Army to check on a number of aspects on the conduct of the fighting war.  So, before leaving, he bought some supplies: “At Abercrombie and Fitch he purchased a waterproof flashlight, and from Brentano’s he acquired a small copy of the New Testament, remarking in his journal that, ‘Since I can carry only one book, it is my choice.  It would not have been a decade ago, but the more I learn and the more I read, the less competition it has.'”

Personally, while I appreciate Lindbergh’s words, I will not be attaching too much weight to them for the simple reason that in his last decades he kept moving farther and farther toward the bizarre.  I will not belabor that point since readers may research his final years themselves if they are so inclined.

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Book Review: “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” 2017 edition

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (I Peter 3:15). 

Apologetics has nothing to do with apologizing.  The Greek word apologia in the New Testament means to reply or make a defense as to why we believe such a thing as the gospel of Jesus Christ, the integrity of Scriptures, or the existence of God. 

In the early 1970s, the publication of Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” caused a sensation.  The thick book was eagerly devoured by pastors and laity, college students and campus ministers, housewives and college professors, seekers and skeptics, all searching to know more about the logical and historical basis of the Christian faith.

In 1972, I was 32 years old when that book appeared on the scene, and was ministering to college students by the hundreds.  The book was a Godsend. Heaven alone knows its full impact.

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