Volume. XXXV, No. 14
Sunday, 04 October 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Educate Your Mind (2)

I ended my previous article by speaking about the importance of reading.  Since then, I have checked the Greek word for “reading” and found that it is a compound word of ana (up or upwards) and gnosis (knowledge).  I thought it a good description of “reading” which enables us to upgrade or enhance our knowledge.  We know the importance and benefits of reading, but not all of us read.  Why is it so?  We can think of a few reasons why.

First, reading is hard work and not always easy.  I need to remove a false impression you may get at this point.  When I say that reading is hard work, I do not mean that, therefore, not everyone is able to read or to work at reading.  On the contrary, most of us do not have any difficulty reading books as most of us can walk, see, or do something with our hands.  Thus, not reading does not have anything to do with the ability to read.  We are able to read but choose not to read.  I occasionally walk, though not too often, for exercise.  I am capable of walking but do not walk often.  Can you see the difference between the two?  Not walking regularly is not an issue of my ability to walk but of my will to walk.  There is one more layer of thought we must have.  Some of you may run regularly.  Both are good.  You are able to run and run regularly.  Fantastic.  However, it does not mean that you are able to join the Boston marathon at any time.  You must be fit to run a marathon.  Our choir used to come to church early to practice their items.  They began with breathing exercises and practising different parts, before joining together to hear the harmony.  Every one of the choir members is able to sing and to breathe, but now they just come to church and present their items without practice.  I have commented a few times that our choir has really improved over the years.  What made a difference to them was their consistent and committed practice.  It is hard to practice to run, sing, write, observe, or read.  Yes, reading is a discipline.  That makes it so hard.  As we cannot run marathons (though we are able to run) and sing in the choir (though we are able to sing), so we cannot read seriously and improve our mind (though we are able to read).  There has to be arduous devotion and commitment to reading.  It requires time and effort.   We will not read unless we discipline ourselves to read.

Second, reading to learn is a complex exercise.  Richard J. Foster frequently reminds us in Celebration of Discipline that we falsely and erroneously think that anyone who can read ought to be able to study ideas.  Such erroneous thought is frequently found in other areas too.  I do not know much about golf.  I have never played golf and am not really interested in this sport.  I sometimes jokingly said to my friends that golf did not look like a sport at all.  However, there was a time when my friend took me to one of the prestigious LPGA tournaments held in Columbus, Ohio.  I followed the friend to watch the top LPGA players and saw different topographies in the golf course, obstacles here and there, up hills and down hills, different distances, wind, etc. I began to see how much work each player must have put into their practice before each tournament.  They must practice repeatedly to get familiar with all kinds of situations.  They must pay attention to very small details and improve their skills.  I may be able to go to the field with the best golf clubs and to hit the balls.  I certainly am able to do so.  However, it does not mean that I can play good golf.  I must get used to the game, practice hard, and work on my weaknesses in order to improve my game.  Reading is the same.  Susan Wise Bauer aptly summarized Foster’s thoughts and said, “Studying a book is an extremely complex matter, especially for the novice.  As with tennis or typing, when we are first learning it seems that there are a thousand details to master and we wonder how on earth we will keep everything in mind at the same time.  Once we reach proficiency, however, the mechanics become second nature, and we are able to concentrate on our tennis game or the material to be typed.  The same is true with studying a book.  Study is an exacting art involving a labyrinth of details” (p. 17). 

Third, reading is a tool to improve our mind and we should know how to use it.  Francis Bacon, a sixteenth century philosopher, said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”  Hasn’t he also said, “Knowledge is power?”  He describes three levels of understanding – tasting, swallowing, and digesting: (1) Taste – gain basic knowledge of your subject, (2) Swallow – take the knowledge into your own understanding by evaluating it.  Is it valid?  Is it true?  Why? and (3) Digest – Fold the subject into your own understanding.  Let it change the way you think – or reject it as unworthy.  In short, “Taste, swallow, digest” means “find out the facts, evaluate them, and form your own opinion.” 

Susan Wise Bauer says, “the classical schoolmaster divides learning into three stages, generally known as the trivium.  The first stage of education is called the grammar stage (in this case, ‘grammar’ means the building blocks. The foundational knowledge of each academic subject).  In elementary school, children are asked to absorb information – not to evaluate it, but simply to learn it.  Memorization and repetition are the primary methods of teaching… critical thinking comes into play during the second stage of education, the logic (or dialectic) stage.  Once a foundation of information is laid, students begin to exercise their analytical skills.  They decide whether information is correct or incorrect, and make connection between cause and effect, historical events, scientific phenomena, words, and their meanings… In the final stage of secondary education, the rhetoric stage, students learn to express their own opinions about the facts they have accumulated and evaluated.  So, the final years of education focus on elegant, articulate expression of opinion in speech and writing – the study of rhetoric” (p. 19).

At this point, I think that it is more than appropriate to listen to Dorothy L. Sayers, a British mystery writer, who delivered a speech at Oxford University in 1947.  This speech is reprinted by the National Review (215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016).  She said, “Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? . . . Have you ever, in listening to a debate among adult and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the other side? … And when you think of this, and think that most of our public affairs are settled by debates and committees, have you ever felt a certain sinking of the heart? … Is not the great defect of our education today – defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned – that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fall lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning?” 

The foremost important book we must care for is the Bible, the inspired Word of God.  Our quick glance of the Book may produce some biblical facts and stories.  However, they are not to be the end of our Bible reading.  The Lord requires of us more than a quick reading of the Bible, but deep and serious meditation which requires our mind to be engaged.


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome to our pulpit: Rev Kyle Graham.
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Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Holiday Bible Club – Speaker: Rev Kyle Graham; helpers & children who attended.
  • Journey mercies: Grandpa Ki & family (Seoul).
  • God’s mercy & protection from COVID-19 in SA & easing of restrictions in Australia.



  • Healing: Rev Mathews Abraham, Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore) & others who are sick.
  • IF Conference – Speaker: Rev Kyle Graham; all attendees.
  • COVID-19 pandemic – God’s continued guidance and protection for Australia & all who are affected.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Kyle Graham & family (Victor Harbor/Pt Lincoln).
  • Missions: Sis Esther Kim & orphanage (Bandung).  



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