John Eldredge, author of a number of bestselling books, including the (wildly) popular Wild at Heart, has recently released a new book, Get Your Life Back. Today's blog is from John, who shares inspiring insight into the power of reading as a tool to get your life back. - Lydia
Nicholas Carr began research on his groundbreaking book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by conducting interviews with “brainy” people such as academics, university professors, and researchers. Carr had a suspicion that the way we currently consume information was deteriorating our attention, and sure enough, he discovered that even people whose careers are in the world of books and information had lost their ability to read anything longer than a blog post. The internet, the smartphone, and the way we receive our information are literally changing the structures of our brains, in ways I don’t think we would volunteer for if we knew ahead of time what we would lose.
I’m not the first person to point out that research is pouring in to show that our obsession with smartphones is deteriorating our human experiences. As Carr pointed out, “Imagine combining a mailbox, a newspaper, a TV, a radio, a photo album, a public library and a boisterous party attended by everyone you know, and then compressing them all into a single, small, radiant object. That is what a smartphone represents to us. No wonder we can’t take our minds off it.”
And so I want to say to you, book reader, that you are a hero and a revolutionary in this frenetic moment. You are swimming against a very strong stream by simply choosing to focus your attention on something other than Instagram posts and emojis. You may not have known this (my guess is that you have intuited it), but you are saving your soul by being a book reader.
Like Carr, my own journey began by noticing the effects our current age were having upon my soul. And I didn’t like what I found. I realized I could only play with my grandchildren (ages three, two, and one) for approximately five minutes before I got distracted. I wanted to pick up my phone, check my messages, the news, see what was going on in the “grown-up” world. But I also found myself dreading my inbox in the morning. So many requests, demands, and needs pile up overnight, it becomes overwhelming. (A colleague just confessed she has thirteen hundred emails in her inbox; that is practically traumatizing.) As a therapist I have been very concerned about the research showing a direct correlation between rising rates of anxiety and depression, and our use of social media.
The world we currently inhabit—with its mad pace of life, over-attachment to technology, tsunami of information, and time spent in artificial cyber-spaces—this world is withering the soul like a tree in a desert. We are losing our humanity and all of the things that make for a rich human experience. Once upon a time going to the store with anticipation, eagerly finding just the right ingredients, coming home to prepare a meal with satisfaction, lingering over that meal with friends or loved ones—this was a natural part of daily life. But nowadays it’s become a special event, something we have to schedule two or three months out.
We are losing most of our human “spaces,” and the things that restore our souls. My musician friends aren’t playing much anymore, my gardening friends didn’t get to plant this year, and I have quite a few books I’ve begun but haven’t moved past the first chapter. We have fallen into a pace of life no one is enjoying. The world has gone mad, and it’s trying to take our hearts and souls with it. We must fight back!
Enjoying an actual book, a real book in your hands, the act of giving lingering attention, while at the same time unplugging from the chaos of the world—this is healing your soul, restoring your humanity, not to mention bringing you joy. And so I salute you, book readers, may you end up leading a revolution back into the Real. May reading be one of many steps that allow us to recover what it means to be human in an age that is trying to turn us all into smartphones. - John Eldredge
John Eldredge is a bestselling author, a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's kingdom. John and his wife, Stasi, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Listen to chapter one of the Get Your Life Back audiobook (narrated by the author):
Find us on Instagram to enter to win one of 5 hardcover copies of Get Your Life Back, along with a Ransomed Heart Yeti Mug! Giveaway ends 2/28/2020.
Page Chaser is operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP) Inc., the publisher of Get Your Life Back.