Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lectio Divinia and Reading

Scott D. Parker

I'm going to bring a little religion to this blog today. It's holy week and it seems like as good time as any.

This past Thursday at church, I participated in a dramatic reenactment of the Last Supper. The preparation involved the obvious act of memorization. As Joelle or any other actor knows, the first thing you have to do is actually memorize the words. This can sometimes be difficult, but memorization has always been something I can do well. Got lots of practice learning Star Wars minutia back in the day. With each rehearsal, I got more comfortable reciting the lines and, after a while, I started to internalize the words. I started to find the spaces between the phrases, emphasize some words over others, and, since it was a religious text, I started to meditate and pray on the material.

Why do I bring this up here. To talk a bit about the concept of Lectio Divinia. It is a particularly unique way to read scripture (and anything for that matter). There are four parts to this practice: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. In the Christian tradition, a person reads a passage of scripture, thinks about its meaning, followed by prayer and contemplation. I think many of us do the first, second, and fourth things on that list when we read fiction, at least with authors we enjoy.

All of this preparation and memorization of the script for the play coincided with my reading of the first five books of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars tales. Up until I read these books back-to-back, I had not read the the same author consecutively in a long time. And when I say "long time," I'm meaning that I literally cannot remember the last time I did it. It might have been when the third book of Timothy Zahn's Star Wars trilogy was released back in the mid 1990s. I re-read the first two to lead into the third. I've always shied away from reading the same author in a row mainly because I didn't want to get burned out on one author or series. Also, there are so many books out there that spending time with one author seemed like a poor way to read.

Reading Burroughs changed that, at least in these past few months. Reading and listening to these five books (approximately a thousand pages) without a break was fun, entertaining, enlightening, and educational. I began to see how Burroughs put words together, the style of paragraphs he liked, and the number of words he used and, frankly, overused. It became, inadvertently, like the concept of Lectio Divinia. I began to wonder if I ought to try reading the same author for a few books at a time. There's always the question of which author to pick, but that's never been an issue. There are numerous series of books, by mystery and other genres, that can easily fill up a reading list.

So, do y'all read the same author back-to-back? If yes, I imagine it's because you enjoy the author's works. But I'm a bit more interested in why you might not do this?

App of the Week: __________ [fill in the blank]

I received my iPad this week...and promptly filled it with apps that I can use to read. I have my writing apps already loaded, the Mario Batali app, and a few games. So, for those of y'all out there with iPads, what are some of your favorite apps?

1 comment:

Dana King said...

I've done it a few times, when I came to an author late and feel I should catch up after loving the first book I read. Dennis Lehane and James Lee Burke come to mind.

I don't do it often, for the same reasons you mentioned: there's too much good stuff to read. Plus, I never want to run the risk of burning out on a favorite. I always want to look forward to reading him.