The Art of Reading

Have you ever heard the hysterical comedy routine of Abbott and Costello, named "Who's on First?" It's sold on video, and it was popular on American television some decades ago. It was about a misunderstanding between the hearer and the speaker about various baseball players during a game; the speaker meant "Who" as a person's name, but the hearer interpreted "who" as an interrogative pronoun. By the end of this extremely funny routine, the hearer is so completely upset with the speaker, he hits him.

In real life, it's not so funny. A spiritual person will open his ears. A carnal person will have closed ears. The latter will be prickly, as a result of being deaf. We all become temporarily deaf; but, with 1Jn1:9, our ears open. Open ears can hear. Open ears, open eyes. He who has an ear, let him HEAR. However, even if one's ears are the familiar words coming into the ear gate really have the same meaning as they appear to have? Ahhh.

Thus this cautionary note about reading. Words "A" uses to "B" (and vice versa) are really words each defines in his own way, even if they speak in the same language. It's an inevitable part of being human that words are colored by how we've learned them. So, if someone else uses those words, we have the habit of prejudically interpreting them -- despite the (unknown, to us) fact that the OTHER person isn't using the same word in that manner. So, much misunderstanding and upset results. A famous example of this would be the guy who says "I love you" -- what it means to him, versus what it means to the recipient, are often quite different!

So, if a meaning to "B" is not the same as "A" hears, "A" might be offended. And, of course, vice versa. For example, "A" might conclude "B" heretical, because "B" happened to use some buzzword of a heresy: but it's not true, since "B" wasn't thinking of the heretical definition when he used the word, and so he wasn't heretical in what he meant, either. If "A" HEARS/READS carefully, "A" can be spared offense.

Much misinterpretation of the Bible occurs because we 'hear' definitions which aren't the same as the Bible's, even though the Bible uses the same words (even assuming accurate translation). One of the greatest things about Scripture I ever learned is this partial quote of my pastor's: the key to interpreting Scripture properly is to "apprehend the exact THOUGHT of the writer." That would also be critical to understanding ANYTHING anyone says, wouldn't it?

In sum, the meaning in any communication depends on the thought behind it; and above all, on the definition of words one uses. You learn what these are by asking as you read/hear, "what does the writer/speaker himself MEAN?" Obviously I won't have done a perfect job of expressing myself; and, some of my words might bug you. So: I apologize to you in advance! Hope you find what you read productive of your OWN spiritual insights before the Lord!