Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Art of Reading - Lectio

The typical "prescription" for spiritual growth is "read your bible and pray." At face value, both of these seem good, even worthy to be aspired. However, one of them may not be biblical. Have you ever pondered this? The Bible doesn't say: "Read your Bible." At least in how we typically understand the word read in our Western context.

The biblical word for reading has a much richer meaning than eyes moving across a page of print while the mind vaguely engages. We often read something once, and even then our comprehension is not very extensive. How many books have you read? How much content of those various books do you remember? The primary Greek New Testament word for read is anagonsis.

isn’t merely an eye to print exercise, it carries the idea of an intimate knowledge with the text at hand. It’s not merely information, but rather an in-formation. Reading, in a Biblical sense, transforms the whole person. The information is formed in the person. You enter into a relationship with the information – it becomes revelation. It implies an intensity, it’s an intentional knowing and re-knowing until one owns it, has internalized it and it has become an incarnational reality.

A number of years ago on "The Merv Griffin Show," the guest was a body builder. During the interview, Merv asked "Why do you develop those particular muscles?" The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded. "What do you use all those muscles for?" Merv asked. Again, the muscular specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions. "But what do you USE those muscles for?" Merv persisted. The body builder was bewildered. He didn't have an answer other than to display his well-developed frame.

Often we too can reduce spiritual exercises -- to improve our pose before an admiring audience. The heart behind lectio divina is to not just get through the Bible, but to get the Bible through us... That it might become living and active from the core of our being...

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