Spending Time with Jonathan Edwards

I love talking about authors as if they’re old friends.

In the morning I am reading The Religious Affections. Every morning from 7:30-8 Jonathan Edwards has my attention. And for the half-hour that I’m reading, he gets to share his thoughts with me. And a conversation begins. In no time, we’re discussing the role of the emotions in the Christian life, and how this influences the way I do ministry. Sometimes, after we’re done, I’m left thinking about what he’s said. I’m being taught.

Same time tomorrow, Jonathan?

Of course.

There is much wisdom in thinking the thoughts of great men after them and continually soaking in the wisdom of the ages. Combine this with a robust diet of God’s Word and you have something special.  I can think of no better way to understand our world.

On top of that, I also believe that these things are essential to being a good pastor. Therefore, I spend a lot of my time reading, studying, thinking, and writing (I can’t think through something without writing– hence, the blog). This is not the typical make up of a youth pastor– I tend to lean toward the error that got Jonathan Edwards fired from his church: spending 8 hours in the office reading, writing, and thinking.

But because being a pastor also means having a social life, I have to strategically schedule meetings with my book-writing friends. Right now I’m meeting with Jonathan Edwards in the morning, J.I. Packer at lunch time, and Homer (writer of The Iliad and The Odyssey- not Homer Simpson. I was supposed to read this in high school and never did, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve heard it’s kind of a big deal…).

Ashley and I read a chapter of Shepherding the Child’s Heart after dinner (we are spotty at best in this) and a devotional called Extreme Devotion from Voice of the Martyrs after breakfast.

Also, I have to read the book that we’re going through as a youth group: Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, which usually fits somewhere into my work day.

All in all, it’s a lot of reading– and I read slowly.

All that to say that I get a lot of information each day (I didn’t even include the blogs that I read regularly). I want to know how you retain what you read. Do you try? Do you underline? Do you write all over your book? Do you write a book report? How do you categorize the information you receive? How do you remember the quotes sentences that impacted you most?

Do you remember the conversations you have with your writer friends or do you forget the moment you put down their book?

I am going to email Dr. Al Mohler, who purportedly reads (and retains information from) around 300 books a year, these questions. If he responds, I’ll be sure to post it.

What are your reading habits, and what tips you do have for reading better (not faster)?

Any suggested reading on the subject?

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