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The Human Library…

When I was in the third grade, I read at a 10th grade level. That was something that I was very proud of. I read books on science fiction and loved history as well. Before I move on with the story, though, please know that my advanced proficiency in reading didn’t continue to progress at an accelerated pace. In fact, the older I got, the less I liked reading and my shelf today is filled with volumes of books that I hope to get around to reading some day…

In fact, here in Carmel, IN where we live, I have only been in the local library a handful of times in the 41 years that we have lived here. I guess that I would rather hear a story from someone than read a book. I know that sounds terrible, especially since I had to navigate many years of seminary reading – including the Bible cover to cover a number of times! But it’s true!

I have been trying to get through several books that I have started and Janet reminded me this evening that one of them I have been working on for about two years now. I’m just not a reading kind of guy – but I wish I was. Kind of like piano lessons – I wish I could play the piano but I dropped out when I was a teenager and I wish that my parents had forced me to continue – at least until I could play with some degree of proficiency.

I also find that I enjoy writing. Transitions now has more than 1800 posts online composed of more than 1.5 million words. And I have written three doctoral dissertations in my life to complete various advanced study degrees. Those were more than 50,000 words each.

Yes, I have thought about writing a book but it seems like such a daunting task that I really don’t want to take the time to do it. I would much rather engage in a conversation with someone than be isolated behind a computer screen.

So you can imagine my surprise when I read about a new kind of library that is being explored in several parts of the country. It’s called a “Human Library” and the idea is rather novel while being completely doable. The big thought is that the local library holds events whereby residents come by and talk to experts on a variety of subjects – rather than read from books. It’s kind of like speed dating – visiting a number of experts on a certain subject on a certain day at a certain time with the goal of learning about something of interest – from an expert.

By engaging in this sort of dialogue, you can ask specific questions and get live, real time answers. These types of events have been very well received and the concept is growing very quickly. I would love to attend one of these – or better yet, be a resource at one of the “Human Library” sessions.

The more I read about these new concepts, the more it seems like we have returned to the old days. Back in the day, stories were handed down orally from generation to generation. In fact, the Psalms were sung to remind those exiled to Babylonia where their roots were – including the majesty of God.

At most of our family gatherings, I will try to tell a story that the grandkids haven’t heard before. I love telling stories. And now, throughout the years I have become known for having a story for virtually every situation. I just love it. What a great way to communicate and teach our younger generations.

Our verse for tonight is from the apostle James, the half brother of Jesus. James reminds his contemporaries, as well as us, in James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”

My encouragement this evening is that telling stories is very biblical. Remember that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible to tell the stories of God and to teach the people of God their history and their destiny! My prayer is that we will continue to engage one another in meaningful dialogue and thereby increase our knowledge to be used for the glory of God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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