Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Vanity?

So, here's my problem. Recently, (this summer) i've tried to become "a reader". My creative writing teacher (whom I revered) in high school told us once: "People who read are smarter than those who don't". Not just being literate, but reading books and engaging in thought on a regular basis. I don't think you can really argue with that.

Since May, i've read 4 books. Velvet Elvis, Blue Like Jazz, Adventures in Missing the Point, and Searching for God Knows What. I've got 3 more going right now too: Colossians Remixed (stupid name, but pretty thick reading), Rennovation of the Heart, and A New Kind of Christian. So thats like, 7 books right? Not bad for a former (let's face it, still) ESPN junkie.

But the problem with me is, I think that part of the reason I like reading books is I like the idea that i'm someone who likes reading books. Read that again. I hope it makes more sense. Is it about the books, more accurately, what the books contain and how I apply it to my relationship with God? OR do I like to sound cool and up to date when I ramble off stuff I read or thought about, and reccomend books to people who are obviously missing out on all the smarts i've got since, i'm a reader now.

My friend Andy was talking about a book called A Generous Orthodoxy on his blog a week or two ago. You know what I wanted to do? Rather than commenting on some aspect that he touched on, or had particular insight on that I missed....I wanted to be like: "Oh ya, the ol' Generous Orthodoxy. I read that like, two summers ago". *sigh* That would be just one of many instances of me liking the version of me thats a reader.

Ever been to an independant music store? Say, Slackers in Columbia? There's an persona the workers don't intentionally put off, well maybe they do, but it's still there. It's like they are way cooler than you simply because they listen to "indie" bands. So what if the music blows, what makes it cool is its lack of popularity. The band is their little secret, and once more people find out about them, it's on to the next one.
I've done that with music too, and sometimes the same desire to be in the know without everyone else knowing carries over to the books I read, which frankly, aren't even that new or cutting edge anyway.

At youth group, I bag on fashion or consumerism or materialism all the time. How we're not defined by what clothes we wear or how new our cars are (wow, thats hard to pronounce), and how we can't just keep putting our value in newer, better stuff. I always say when we define ourselves by whats around us, it's like remembering where you parked by what cars you're next to.

So how stupid am I by operating by the "cooler/smarter than you" principal with BOOKS ABOUT JESUS! I've got books called: Adventures in Missing the Point on my shelf but i'm really missing the point! Aarrrrg!

The fashion industry is shallow- this fall's clothes are way more in than last years, but next year this years clothes will be so last year. Get it? Trying to stay on the cutting edge in that cycle is an endless pursuit of vanity, expensive and un-rewarding once the style fades.

So trying to keep trendy with all the new books or new authors or new buzzwords is pretty much the same thing. Only at least with fashion i'd be more honest with myself than when I get all prideful about the latest books i've read.

Well, I hope this has all made sense. I'm going to keep reading, not to be smarter than other people (even though that may be true....ok, nevermind, sorry) but rather to stimulate my mind and motivate my spirit even more. *cajun man voice* Stimulation, Motivation,....Conclusion.

2 comments:

Kara said...

I think I'm much the same way. Although I do benefit from reading the books in the longrun, I think a lot of times I initially start reading the books just to say I've read them. I have a friend who always finds out about the latest books before I do, and once I thought I found a book she hadn't read yet, turns out she had read it months ago...you just can't win. So I totally understand what you're saying, and I think a lot of people are the same way. It's something we all need to work on as far as reading (or whatever it may be) for our own benefit and not just to prove something to others.

Alex Williams said...

I know exatcly what you mean. I do it much the same with music (I'm not much of a reader) and also movies. Sometimes I find myself listening to a certain band or watching a certain movie just because it seems like something that will be cool to be able to bring up to somebody later. Of course I'm not only doing it for that reason, just a perk in a way. So obviously you aren't alone in this feeling when broadening one's horizon (considering Kara already commented about books as well).