Accumulating knowledge or using knowledge?

Renovare Ministries was started by a group led by Richard Foster several decades ago. The focus was to turn the Church back to the joy of spiritual formation and help the Church walk in transformation. This week’s email letter was thought-provoking as I wrote a post about trying to tackle Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics. My desire is to slow down when I’m used to building a list of books I want to read and then trying to “beat” that number every year.

The 17th-century theologian and educator François Fénelon commented, “If we are not care­ful we will spend such a large seg­ment of our lives in gain­ing knowl­edge that we shall need anoth­er life­time to put our knowl­edge into prac­tice. We are in dan­ger of eval­u­at­ing our spir­i­tu­al matu­ri­ty on the basis of the amount of knowl­edge we have acquired.”

This is the danger in which I find myself. I love to study. I love to acquire. It is key in my life to keep being challenged and keep growing where needed. The danger is if I only want to accumulate knowledge and not care about doing something with it.

How do we read to be formed and not just informed?

Richard Foster found that if a book influenced him deeply, he would re-read it. The key isn’t to be a “reader.” The key is to be a pilgrim. The joy isn’t the destination. It is the transformation along the way. The pilgrim doesn’t blast through a journey. The pilgrim is willing to wait, linger, and loop around again to learn something.

Foster spoke of a book he had read 12 times coming out of college. It had impacted him deeply and he found that every time he read it there was something more to gain.

HERE IS THE QUESTION: Outside the Bible, what is a book (or books) that has impacted you so deeply you’ve gone through it several more times over the years?

For me, it’s been Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. A distant second has been The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard and Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. Rohr’s book has been life giving to me in the last few years especially as I contemplate what it means to live well in the “last third” of my life.

What about YOU?

What books have been pilgrimage books for you?

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