And Immersing Ourselves in the Biblical Story”
A review of
Lectio Divina, The Sacred Art:
Transforming Words and Images
into Heart-Centered Prayer
by Christine Valters Paintner.
Review by Chris Smith.
[ Read an excerpt from this book... ]
How do we read the Bible in this age when – as Christian Smith has persuasively argued in his recent book The Bible Made Impossible – some traditional approaches to scriptures are on the verge of dying off? Is it possible for us to engage and immerse ourselves in scripture in ways other than taking it as cold, static textbook? The ancient practice of lectio divina (holy reading) is surprisingly relevant for our times, and Christine Valters Paintner’s new book Lectio Divina, The Sacred Art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer is an elegant and useful introduction to this approach to reading the Bible (or other texts) in today’s world. Over the last five centuries, the modernity of the Western world has served to streamline life, eliminating or minimizing practices that seem to be labor-intensive or extraneous. The result is today’s globalized, fast-food world that is rapidly losing the capacity for attentiveness as it continually accelerates into the future. And indeed our practices of Bible reading have followed suit with the larger culture. Scripture is no longer a grand drama about God reconciling all creation by gathering a faithful people, but rather it has been reduced – in the most egregious cases – to a sort of self-help guide that unequivocally shows me how to be saved and make a good life for myself. What we need in our times is a decidedly slow way of reading scripture, a way of immersing ourselves and abiding in God’s story that fits the incarnational and attentive way of Jesus. Lectio divina, as Paintner describes it in this new book, offers us exactly the sort of slow and careful approach to scripture that we desperately need amidst the velocity of our times.
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