Surely, You Jest: More Reading?!   1 comment

The following was written by Mike Schutt, director of Christian Legal Society Law Student Ministries and Associate Professor of Law at Regent University School of Law. These are just excerpts from his article in “The Christian Lawyer.”

[George] Orwell [who wrote 1984] warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in [Aldous] Huxley’s vision [who wrote Brave New World], no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism… Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As the television age has become the Internet era and the Facebook age has spawned the Twitter era, we seem well on our way to becoming Huxley’s preoccupied trivial culture, reduced to “passivity and egoism,” while the truth drowns in a sea of irrelevance.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate social networking tools and technologies… but I think Christians should be especially troubled by our advanced state of preoccupied distraction and our declining literacy…

Whether the technologies that we love have displaced faithful study, or simply filled the vacuum after we stopped really reading, it is clear to me that our abandonment of faithful study of the written word has played a major role in the trivialization of public discourse.

In some ways, Christian lawyers and law students are in an ideal position to take up the cause of the recovery of faithful study, at least as concerns of our own callings, if not to spur the recovery of logic, history, maturity and reasoned engagement in public discourse generally. But my experience is that, despite our rigorous reading, logical training, and analytical skills, we are no more dedicated to the study of words than others in our world…

My challenge, then to Christian law students is to rise to the level of your call–based on your intellectual gifts, the training you are receiving, and the tools at your disposal–and embrace your duty to study the Scriptures and the other books God has placed at your disposal. Resist the slide into triviality. Reject the justifications that you’re too busy and that you “read enough as it is.” While you are in law school, develop regular Bible study habits, read widely on the law and theology, and read for pleasure, taking time to discuss your reading with others and to reflect upon it.

Drop the standard excuses. First of all, you are not too busy. As my colleague Dan Kim likes to point, there is a difference between being “busy” and being stressed. Like it or not, you are likely experiencing the least busy time of your life right now (particularly if you are a 2L or 3L). The demands of law school are no match for the ever-growing and conflicting financial and emotional demands of raising a family and learning, then growing a law practice…

Set aside time to actually study Scripture. We need to make sure that we are studying Scripture, first and foremost, in addition to our law school coursework… As Richard Foster points out: “The process that occurs in study should be distinguished from meditation. Meditation is devotional; study is analytical. Meditation will relish a word; study will explicate it. Although meditation and study often overlap, they constitute two distinct experiences. Study provides a certain objective framework within which medication can successfully function.”…

Read. We must read books that will help us develop historical or biblical perspectives on law and legal institutions. If we are serious about our calling as lawyers and the role of the church in our spiritual development, we will seek the wisdom of others who have spoken or written on the law…

Discuss your reading and reflect on it. Finally, our study should include both discussion with others and private reflection. We should “kick around” what we read with friends. We should listen, too, and learn from those more knowledgeable than ourselves. In addition, we need to be alone with our thoughts, finding time for reflective contemplation of the topics we study…

The challenge for all of us is to figure out what they are and then address them head on. We usually know our preoccupations. The question is whether we’re willing to abandon these beloved technologies in favor of the discipline of serious study. May the Lord grant us the grace to study to His glory.

I wanted to share with whoever two or three of you that read this what I’ve been reading lately, in addition to law school books–not to boast, but hopefully to encourage you to persevere. I hope that you guys would comment and let me know what you’ve been reading, too.

“Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” by Francis Chan
This is an amazing book that just feeds the soul with the amazing truth of God’s great love for His own, and His calling for us to love Him with all that we have… because He is our greatest good and He is our all-satisfying pursuit.

“The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity” by Thabiti Anyabwile
Anyabwile goes through major and central Christian doctrines, such as theology proper, soteriology, and pneumatology, and he goes through the history of beliefs in the African-American church. Throughout this book, he gives detailed and clear insights into the beliefs of well-known and biblically-rooted African-American church leaders, such as Lemuel Haynes and Bishop Daniel Payne, as well as modern spiritually-shallow Christianity-lite men such as T.D. Jakes.

“The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy” by Bill Simmons
Simmons is my favorite sports writer because of the depth of his sports knowledge, the cleverness of his analysis, and the humor (although sometimes too lewd) that ties it all together. The only thing I disagree with Simmons in this book is that he does not place Kobe Bryant as one of the top-10 basketball players of all time–what a hater.


Posted February 20, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

One response to “Surely, You Jest: More Reading?!

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  1. Hello Mitti. I’ve jumped ship to WordPress. 🙂

    Books I am currently reading:

    “Staying True” by Jenny Sanford

    “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan

    “Confessions of a Reformission Rev.” by Mark Driscoll

    “In Style Magazine, March 2010 Edition” by people who know fashion

    If you have good book suggestions, blog it! I want to be exposed to different types of books. 🙂

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