Monday, April 7, 2014

Bookworm for God?

The Bookworm by Ninidu
Okay, I admit it. I'm a bookworm.

I've always loved to read, and for the past few years I've been reading mostly romances. They may not always be realistic, but I find those guaranteed happy endings make me happy, too, at least for a time.

I wrote a blog entry titled "Addicted to Love" back in 2009, citing an article  in the Washington Post. The article concluded that when times are tough, romance novels are a comfort.

This is definitely the case for me. Romances are an escape from real life, from boredom, from the terrible, heartbreaking stories on the news.

Then last week, Kristin's Lenten devotion told a story about Isobel Miller Kuhn. Kuhn was a devoted Christian and missionary to China and Thailand from 1928 to 1954. She loved romances, too. Here's what she said in her book, "By Searching."
I was a voracious reader of romantic fiction. Novels gripped me and were my favorite mental escape from trials and difficulties, or from an evening which had to be spent alone. ...
[One evening] I was deep in the excitement of the book, ... and it was one o'clock in the morning before I finished the book and took up my Bible for evening devotions. But I got no blessing from it. Never had the Bible seemed so drab and dull. When I tried to pray, the Lord seemed far away. It's just sleepiness, I told myself, and curled up for slumber.

But the next morning things were little better. God still seemed far away and the Bible stuffy and uninteresting. ...

Traveling into town by bus gave me time to think. What has happened to me, that the Lord seemed no longer real? ... Why had the Bible become insipid? I was alarmed. Sitting in the bus, I talked to the Lord about it in my heart.

"Oh Lord, what is wrong with me?" I prayed. "Why can't I sense Your presence now as I have lately? Why has the Bible become dry?"

"When a child fills her stomach with ice cream and soda pop," the Lord seemed to answer, "why does she lose her appetite for meat and potatoes?"

"Lord, do you mean the novel did that to me? ... Lord, if I promise to give up novel reading, will You come back to me? Will the Bible come alive to me again?"

"Try it and see."

From that moment, the Lord was real and present once more, and the Word took on new meaning. ... Did I find it hard to make this self-denial? Does one miss candlelight when morning sunshine is pouring in the window? No, I was richly repaid for this self-discipline.
This made me think. Maybe instead of giving up desserts for Lent, I should have given up reading romances. Even though I've increased my Bible study and devotional reading this year, imagine how my faith could grow if I read the Bible for hours every day instead of trashy books.

What do you think?


  1. This is a powerful reflection. It not only true with books, but other forms of entertainment--what we put in our minds surely affects what we think about and what we produce. That is a very challenging proposition!

    1. Well, I bought the Kindle version of Isobel Kuhn's book "By Searching." I'm going to try to read that, instead of romances, for the rest of this Lenten season. It's a start, anyway.

  2. One year I gave up soap operas for Lent for that reason, and it was really effective. It was hard, because I was in school, and all my friends would watch our favorite soaps during lunch, so it meant I had to eat alone and I was left out of all of the discussions. But after Lent I had no desire to watch soap operas anymore. Amazing how a 40 day fast can cure a person!

    1. You're very right about that. I did the same thing with alcohol one year. I was under a lot of stress and I would drink several glasses of wine every evening to help me relax. By giving it up completely. I learned I didn't really need a glass of wine--or two or three--to relax. That 40-day fast cured me. Now I can have a glass once in a while without that perceived "need."