What happens when we read too quickly?

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Rev. Walter Klockers

Recently, I downloaded an app for my iPhone. It is called Blinkist. I decided to try their service for a seven-day free trial.

Blinkist provides 15-minute summaries of books in an audio format.

After accepting the trial offer, I quickly skimmed over their list of book titles. Most were business-related or involved self-improvement. I had hoped for a broader variety, but unfortunately, that was not the case.

Despite my initial disappointment, I thought it would still be good to find something to sample. So, I ended up selecting the abridged audiobook version of “Changing the Subject, Art and Attention in the Internet Age,” by Sven Birkerts.

The premise of the book is that modern technology, dominated by the internet and personal smart phone, has some major drawbacks.

Immediately after making the selection, I intently listened on my iPhone. I managed to take in the author’s train of thought for the entire 15 minutes and finished the book.

The last chapter was a short summary. In fact, it consisted of only a few choice words but still managed to drive home the point.

In fact, I thought, one could have listened to this alone to get the gist. I could have simply skipped to this efficiently-encapsulated, laser-focused summation.

In span of a sip or two of coffee the secret would have be revealed.

After hearing his condensed words of wisdom, I laughed out loud and discontinued the trial offer.

What was said?

“Now put down the smart phone and pick up a book.”

Listening to an abridged audiobook is passive and limiting. Although it does quickly increases knowledge, there is a richer experience to be found in reading a physical book and turning its pages for its entire length.

By processing words for ourselves, we develop the part of our brain that is responsible for imagination and creativity.

As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

When I read the words of Scripture, one question I ask is how they may apply to me. As such, I “use it.”

I do have a Bible on my iPhone, however, there is nothing like paper pages on which I frequently highlight, make notes, and circle key words.

In my mind, to do so, makes the stories more active instead of me being a passive listener. So, I tend to take my time. I do not wish to rush through it. I get more out of it this way.

How about you?

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.

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