Have you ever thought about the absolute importance of literacy and reading to the flourishing of community, the shalom of God, and the moving forward of God's Kingdom? It was something that I never thought about. Then I came upon this book entitled "Reading for the Common Good: How Books help our Churches and Neighborhoods flourish by C. Christopher Smith" and within it's pages this quote, "Laubach (a 20th century missionary in the Philippines) saw literacy as essential to establishing the shalom of God."
I had seen this book mentioned before on social media and I also am a Facebook friend of Chris. The other day (his birthday) he posted that he was giving away amazon cards to buy his book in exchange for a review on Amazon. Well for anyone who knows me knows that I always love to receive books in exchange for blog posts and reviews on Amazon. So i contacted Chris and told him I was in. It hasn't even been a week and I have already finished the book.
Don't let the relatively small size of the book (weighing in at only 176 total pages) full you. It is packed with great insight and wisdom, regarding the issues of literacy, reading, and the connection between those things and the flourishing of creation. You could almost call this book "How reading can be missional" or " A missional call to literacy." as it is so packed with the concepts of literacy and how it can impact the communities that our churches and faith communities reside in , minister in ,and live as missionaries in.
As good books are prone to do, Reading for the Common Good fueled my imagination regarding the flourishing of Lancaster and the relation of the flourishing of Lancaster to reading, and to what Peter Senge would call "Learning Organizations" (and I would call Faith Communities who take serious God's call of shalom). I began to dream about ways that our Veritas community could read together (book clubs, reading lists for sermons, teams reading books together, etc..), and how the Veritas community could work towards the flourishing of the community in relation to literacy (literacy tutoring in schools, little lending library outside the Community Room on King, etc) as well as hosting lecture series on issues of faith, justice, politics, environment, and culture.
So I'm thankful for Chris and his work in writing "Reading for the Common Good" and helping to spur my imagination around the connections between literacy, the flourishing of the city, and the Kingdom of God. He ends with these thoughts, which echo in my heart, soul and mind, "Reading, reflecting, conversing, learning, working, binding together; these are the ways in which our communities- church, neighborhood, and world- begin to mature and flourish. This interconnected life is the joyous and meaning-rich end of which we were created. This is humanity fully alive."
So if you want to see how reading can be done for the common good. If you want to see how reading can help the flourishing of your community. If you want to see the connection between literacy and the Kingdom of God, then do yourself a favor and pick up "Reading for the Common Good" by C. Christopher Smith.