Here’s a question I’ve been asking myself all summer: what do I do when something I just read left me confused?
(Why do I bring this up after the Earth and Its Inhabitants section of The Discarded Image? No reason. No reason.)
It’s connected to another question: why read literary criticism?
Here’s a quotation from the literary critic Harry Berger I keep coming back to on these two topics.
We are to make use of what our heritage has given us…We are to face it with an attention at once respectful and vernacular—submitting to those who have most deeply pondered our condition, yet thinking their thoughts in our heads and for our lives.
When I read something like The Discarded Image I feel the weight of someone who has “deeply pondered our condition” and I take seriously the task of thinking his thoughts in my head in my own language.
A bonus? These two moves—submitting then thinking—are a pretty good description of what our relationship to scripture should be.
Keep reading. Keep pondering. Keep thinking.