Changing Perspective

I love to read. At any given time, I’ve always got a stack of books that are on my “To Read” list. Heck, I’ve been tracking the books that I’ve read for the last few years and created a reading plan so that I can be more intentional with what I’m reading since that list is so long.

When I look at my Amazon wishlist, I’m not always sure how I discovered some of the books that are on there. A lot of times it’s from reading something else that makes reference to a book. Other times, it’s because of the recommendation of a friend. Still other times, it’s because I was browsing around and stumbled upon something that looked interesting to me.

I also frequent Goodwill a lot. My oldest son is a big reader and I am constantly trying to find age appropriate and yet challenging reads for him. On occasion, I will find something that piques my curiosity there as well.

While there’s generally a story behind every book that I have, I can’t always look at the bookshelf and pull up in my brain just what the story was for that particular book. Other times, it’s not hard remembering at all.

One of my commitments to myself over the past few months was to challenge myself in reading things that are out of my stream. I’m not a big political guy, but Ronald Reagan made an impact on me and made a difference during my lifetime, so I picked up a biography about him. I haven’t quite gotten through it yet, but I’m trying.

The bigger challenge for me is from a theological and ideological standpoint. It’s pretty easy for me to find my theological stream and simply read books by authors with whom I mostly agree. Chances are slim that there will be 100% agreement, but I would say the agreement is in the 75-80% range on most occasions. The challenge is to read books where my agreement with the author lies somewhere between the 20-25% range.

It’s easy to read stuff with which you agree, it’s a whole different ballgame to be stretched to read things with which you don’t agree.

My friend base is fairly diverse (not extremely, but fairly). I look at the various streams and chapters of my life: Childhood, high school, college, work, Connecticut, North Carolina, Virginia, and so on. I can find myself beginning to ask a lot of questions when faced with the difference between me and some of my friends. Somewhere, there was enough commonality for these people and me to become friends, but there is also enough diversity there that we might engage in some riveting and loud conversation should we venture into certain topics.

I think it’s important to change your perspective once in a while. It needs to be done within reason, but I think that there is so much value in seeing things from a different viewpoint. It seems almost inevitable that when we change our viewpoints and perspectives, we will see things that we did not see before.

I felt the need to change my perspective while I was in seminary. I had begun questioning some of the things that I had been taught growing up, and I thought, “What better way to do it than in seminary?” I wanted to wrestle through some issues on my own, without feeling that someone was right behind me whispering, “It’s that one, you know that one is the right way!”

Now, when some people begin to question, they take major leaps away from where they are. I never quite got there. Of course, major leaps for some may be child’s play for others. My leaps have never been incredibly far, but they’ve been leaps nonetheless.

I’ve read a few books this year that were a challenge to my own thinking. They were books that had been recommended by someone with whom I did not necessarily agree but with whom I have a good relationship. That seemed to be key, I love and trust these people, even though we don’t necessarily agree, and so I gave credence to their recommendations.

I hope to be sharing my thoughts on some of these books on here in the future. I hope that the things that I have learned can be beneficial to others as well.

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