The Hunger Games….the book by Suzanne Collins that has been all the rage in the last couple of years, especially among teens. My daughter was no exception and begged her mother and I to allow her to read it. But, we had serious reservations about it. From what my wife had heard as a librarian the book was about blood thirsty teenagers who were fighting each other to the death. Whatever redeeming values the book had or important concepts it might teach, surely there were better works of literature that could teach the same lessons to my daughter…why jump on The Hunger Games bandwagon?
But I began thinking that rather than totally just say “no,” we should read the book with her so we could discuss the themes it brought up…help her process what the author was writing. I felt we were making a decision about the book based on what we had heard rather than reading it for ourselves. And, the older my daughter gets, the more important it is to me that she thinks for herself and processes why or why not something is appropriate. Her reasoning has to be more substantial than “because mom and dad said” because, unfortunately, there will be a day soon when mom and dad won’t be by her side. This was a chance to engage in that process WITH her…to have yet another shot to walk it out with her.
But, my wife had no desire to read it, so the task was laid squarely at my feet. The problem was that I hate reading…I hate reading, but I love my daughter. And, her eyes were pleading with me. How could I NOT read it?
Now, I had been warned that the book was very well written and that when I started, I would not be able to put it down. But, I had my doubts….after all, I’m not a fan of reading. But, before I knew it, I was at the end of chapter 5, and the only reason I put it down because I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. However, the next night, the book won out…. I was up until 3:30 AM to finish all 300+ pages because….well….I really couldn’t put it down!
I’m glad I read it because I found that much of our concerns about the book were unnecessary. I found that my daughter and I have come to a new place in our relationship because she knows that I want to process life with her and will DO it. And, I also found that….by George…I like reading!
For me, reading books has been more “professional development” than it has been something to do just for fun. But here I am, enjoying a book, wondering when and how I lost the joy of reading. Was it when I became a pastor? I have a masters degree in music, not theology or an M.Div. Have I been unknowingly succumbing to a self-created pressure to read every book like it’s a text book in order to prove to my congregation, my denomination, or myself, that I am qualified to be a pastor, even though I don’t have a degree? (as if a degree qualifies me in the first place!) Has my study of the Bible become more of an academic exercise than it has the pure adventure of finding Jesus on every page?
It may sound odd and slightly sacrilegious…but I think God has used my experience reading The Hunger Games to remind me just how much I actually enjoy reading, learning, processing. I have started reading a book about church planting and one on theology….and it’s FUN! And, probably most importantly, I am enjoying through 1 Thessalonians again.
Sure didn’t see that coming……Merry Christmas to me! 🙂