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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Decline of Reading

White Open Spaces posted an entry in regards the NEA's dismal survey "Reading at Risk." I recently read an article by Joseph Epstein who questioned the results of that survey. Mr. Epstein attacked the quality of literature that was being considered (the survey included romance and mystery novels). But also confessed, "To me the shock isn't the discovery that Americans are reading less; it is the knowledge that we read as much as we do." And he adds, "Though no one can say, how much of this reading is really serious." He went on to list several lifestyle distractions that prevent Americans from reading more (family, friends, community, career). If I am any indication of an average American, he's correct. Between work, family and community, I barely have time to read as much as I'd like. He also referenced several writers I have not read. So, now the challenge for me is to carve out some quiet time and devour those tomes.

  1. Blogger 1000 black lines | 7:17 PM, September 01, 2004 |  

    This email was sent to me (and I use with permission):

    "In regard to the lost art of reading, do you not find it interesting that God in all HIS capacity to create gave us His Word in written form? He did not create video/dvd formats, yet He did create our eyes and our ability to see. He did not create cassettes, (8-tracks yikes) MD-3 Players yet He did create our ears and ability to hear. He wrote the first account of creation and gave it to Adam with the responsibility to pass it on. When you read the phrase in Genesis "this is the generations of..." this is accepted by even secularists studying ancient documents as signifying a written account.

    The mind seems to hold on to that which it can see, hear and 'digest' from a written form much better than that which is digested by other minds and spewed forth on TV, movie screen, CD's, DVD's and even preaching from a pulpit."

    I agree with you. There is divine significance to the written record. It is also noted that in classical education (and correct me if I'm wrong) grammar fell under the school of logic (knowledge of how things fit together) not the school of rhetoric (eloquent expression of the logical conclusion). Maybe I should amend the title to "The Decline Epistemology." The decline in reading might suggest that the American education system places too much emphasis on images and not language skills. "What just happened?" is more likely to be heard in America than "Why did that happen?" Journalism in the U.S. represents this well with most published articles stating who, what, when, where but rarely why. "Why" is often reserved for the editorial columns. Interestingly, deep down in the soul of mankind is placed a special "why" that only is touched by tragedy. Why and her sibling How suggest that mankind is a reasonable creature constructed by a knowledgeable and wise Designer.

    Thanks Dennis.

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