Friday, February 20, 2009

What Can This Teach Me?

I always try first to read and listen to everything with one question in mind:

"What can this teach me personally - that I can liken unto myself?" (or, worded differently, "What hits me as I read / listen - what jumps out at me?") Once I have focused on what I can learn personally, I then go back and try to understand what was being said overall - by focusing on very careful parsing of the words. I would rather understand only some of it than misunderstand even some of it. That's true of religious texts, non-religious texts and blog discussions.

Only after that process do I go back and try to see if I disagree with anything in it. (and that applies to how I listened to Christian talk radio as I drove the hills of rural SE Ohio, WV and PA, as well) I believe almost everyone has something they can teach us, as long as we are willing to look for it in what they say and write.

In "On Reading the General Authorities", the author, David Knowlton, said:

"Unlike other texts, I was raised to approach the Brethren’s writings with an attitude of prayer, such that through them I could feel the Spirit’s whisperings. It seems to me that idea/act is an important beginning for comprehending an approach to reading."

That sums up my attitude quite well: "Help me learn what I need to learn from this, before I try to understand it fully or look for points of disagreement."


Anonymous said...

I used to have something close to your attitude but without the spirituality part. Let me try to make myself clear. If I'd hear anything from general conference to philosophical teaching I would think: "oh this is what I should be doing" which would lead to "I am not doing it" and then "I am just a big sh*t" because I know what I should be doing and I am not doing it"...Funny how with the spirit and the understanding of the atonement everything becomes so much more enjoyable.

One thing that I have heard when I was a senior in high school that has stuck with me ever since is: whenever you think something or you are lead to think or believe something ask yourself "why? Who would benefit of me thinking this?". This is one of the best piece of advice I have been given because it helps me make decision with the best understanding I can have at this moment.
I use it even if I read from GAs. Then I turn to my HF with a prayer to try to understand what I don't understand and know whether I am on the right path for myself or not.

Papa D said...

backandthen, 1st Paragraph: That is an interesting difference. I know too many people, generally women, who do the first. If I could change one stereotypical thing, that would be one I'd consider.

2nd paragraph: I really like that thought. Thanks for sharing it.

KrizteeTrain said...

Hello all. I am new to this blog and plan on reading it weekly. Good stuff here!

I think what we have here is simply the difference between an optomist and a pessimist; between those who are philosophically stilted towards the scriptures and those who are not.

The good news is we can train ourselves to think one way or the other, and maybe more imortantly, we can train our posterity to do the same.

Happy Friday!

Jami said...

A healthy attitude. One I need to adopt more fully.

Papa D said...

Good to see you, KT. I hope you enjoy it here.

Jami, it's not easy, but it's worth it. It takes conscious focus and a willingness to be reminded. My wife wanted to focus more on recognizing her blessings about a year ago, so she started blogging every Saturday specifically about the blessings from the previous week. She's been doing it every week since then, and it has begun to change how she is able to see the blessings as they are happening instead of just in hindsight. It's been a wonderful experience for her.

I think you read her blog occasionally, so I think you know that - so my description mostly is for anyone else who hasn't seen it. If you want to see her blog, follow the link either in my blogroll (Mama De Hotel) or in the "Individual Blogs" section.

Anonymous said...

This has sat with me for a while.I find that I'm applying this to many of my interactions,and that it's slowing my reactions-in a good way-giving me more time to process what's good. Also,back and then,this is a useful tool that I will share with my children,I often feel disempowered at the way that information is communicated to them,and thinking about who profits by it is going to be illuminating.Good stuff,as my DH would say.Will share it with him.