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I’ve recently been re-blogging some old posts that continue to appear in my stats. However, this re-blog is one that has disappeared into the archives and I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it in my stats. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to re-blog it as I will finally have a part-2, five years later! haha. Note the final lines of this post. I’ve since read Neil Postman’s classic Amusing ourselves to Death and will interact with that. Meanwhile, here is that post from February 2011:

Do you have an active mind?

Although I am “anti-hoarder” and detest clutter, I do save articles or clippings that challenge me so that I will have them for future reference. Back in the year 2000, I saved the adult “sunday school paper” I received…the theme was on reading and the “active mind”.  Below I have typed out the brief article called “An Active Mind” by Merle R. Hull (1921-1990).

I have a certain friend whom I see 2 or 3 times a year. Whenever we meet, if we have time for more than usual family updates and work talk, he asks, “What books are you reading just now?”  I can usually mention some new titles. I haven’t always read them word for word, but thankfully, he doesn’t ask about that detail.

What prompts this man’s question? He has an active mind, and he wants to know what book he might get for himself if he hasn’t already seen it.

Now, let me put the same question to you: What are you reading? As I ask that, I’m thinking of the immediate, practical values of reading: new information, new insights, new ideas, new understanding and appreciation of something from God’s Word.  Some books are worth far more than others, yet even a literary dud ought to yield one or two fresh thoughts.

Reading exercises the mind. Our minds do need stimulating activity to keep in shape. Going through the regular daily routines may involve the mind, but much of that mental activity is a matter of habit.

A mind is like a muscle. Left unexercised, unstretched, it weakens over time. Exercised, it grows stronger. I suspect the reason we don’t use our minds more is that thinking is work, and once we are out from under the pressures of a formal learning situation, we quit working.

So read. Discipline yourself to spend at least 2 or 3 hours a week reading something that requires concentration. Don’t worry about speed reading and all that. Go slowly, if necessary, but sink yourself into it. Read Bible-related books, of course, but also include wholesome books and articles on other themes. Keep Philippians 4:8 as a guide, and then put your mind to work.

– I appreciated these thoughts by Merle Hull. Reading should stretch us, not just comfort us or entertain us. Yes, we all need to be comforted or entertained sometimes, but not all the time! I fear we are a society being entertained to death. But that would be another post…