You don’t have to burn books to destroy a cul­ture. Just get peo­ple to stop read­ing them.

Ray Brad­bury said that in 1994, sev­er­al years before the pro­lif­er­a­tion of social media and smart­phone use began seri­ous­ly hijack­ing our capac­i­ty for sus­tained read­ing. Now, his warn­ing is more rel­e­vant than ever. 

The truth is, it’s always been a chal­lenge to cre­ate the space nec­es­sary for the kind of read­ing that nour­ish­es the heart. But in this cur­rent age of dis­trac­tion, it can feel almost impossible. 

A cou­ple of years ago, Philip Yancey wrote a piece for the Wash­ing­ton Post titled The death of read­ing is threat­en­ing the soul.” He noticed that the online world of sound­bites and click­bait was con­tribut­ing to a trou­bling dimin­ish­ment in his own read­ing life, and he resolved to push against the trend. 

I’ve con­clud­ed that a com­mit­ment to read­ing is an ongo­ing bat­tle, some­what like the bat­tle against the seduc­tion of Inter­net pornog­ra­phy. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to with­stand the temp­ta­tions of that pow­er­ful dopamine rush while also pro­vid­ing shel­ter for an envi­ron­ment that allows deep read­ing to flour­ish. Chris­tians espe­cial­ly need that shel­ter­ing space, for qui­et med­i­ta­tion is one of the most impor­tant spir­i­tu­al disciplines. 

We think that Philip is right — that we need a fortress of habits” to sup­port a read­ing life. And it’s that con­vic­tion that’s mak­ing us par­tic­u­lar­ly pas­sion­ate about this year’s Ren­o­varé Book Club, includ­ing and espe­cial­ly the fact that Philip is one of our facil­i­ta­tors this year. We’re con­vinced that when some­one clicks the Join Book Club” but­ton, what they are real­ly doing is begin­ning to con­struct their own read­ing fortress out of the build­ing blocks of inten­tion­al­i­ty, encour­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ty, account­abil­i­ty … and real­ly won­der­ful books! 

This year we’ll be read­ing together:

Book One: Fear­ful­ly and Won­der­ful­ly: The Mar­vel of Bear­ing God’s Image, writ­ten by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand. This updat­ed release com­bines two of Yancey and Brand’s mod­ern clas­sics to offer a pro­found explo­ration of the won­der of the human body. Philip will be facil­i­tat­ing our jour­ney through this book — his first time in the Club! 

Book Two: Doors into Prayer, by Emi­lie Grif­fin. When William A. Bar­ry says a book makes prayer entic­ing,” we pay atten­tion! It helps that Renovaré’s own Emi­lie Grif­fin wrote the book in ques­tion — a hand­book on prayer that is as prac­ti­cal as it is elo­quent. Plus, Emi­lie her­self has agreed to facilitate. 

Book Three: The Inte­ri­or Cas­tle, by Tere­sa of Ávi­la. Accord­ing to Ren­o­varé Board Mem­ber and life­long pas­tor Dr. Miri­am (Mimi) Dixon, this six­teenth-cen­tu­ry clas­sic is a field guide for any pil­grim in search of a deep­er life with God.” Glad­ly, we have Mimi (who has spent many hours being men­tored by Tere­sa’s writ­ing) to teach us how to access this guide. 

Book Four: Life With­out Lack: Liv­ing in the Full­ness of Psalm 23, by Dal­las Willard. Becky Willard Heat­ley and Lar­ry Burtoft lov­ing­ly craft­ed Dallas’s record­ed teach­ings into this wise and deeply encour­ag­ing trea­tise on liv­ing life with­out fear. We’re thrilled to have Becky and Lar­ry serve as our facilitators. 

Are you ready to build your fortress? Reg­is­tra­tion is now open. The Club runs Octo­ber-May. Mem­ber­ship includes week­ly guides through the books, exclu­sive resources from the authors/​facilitators, online dis­cus­sion (expand­ing to include month­ly video chats this year!), and the option to join or start an in-per­son dis­cus­sion group. We hope you will join us in the Club.

Pho­to by Antho­ny DELANOIX on Unsplash

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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