Posts tagged ‘books’

April 18, 2012

Judging a book by its cover

 Guest Contributor – Angela Kasjan

I love reading. Ever since I worked out how to decipher words on a page, I’ve just loved it. I love getting lost in a story, in discovering new ideas. Books are one of my greatest passions and I love bookshops. I love picking up a potential new read, turning it over in my hands, smelling it, reading the blurb, savouring the anticipation of what gems it might hold. I might scan the contents and read a few pages. I might have had a recommendation from a friend. I might know of the author and have enjoyed their work before.

I pass judgement on whether I will buy and read the book based on strategies that have served me well in the absence of perfect information. I buy my book. I set myself up in a sunny spot on the couch with a coffee, and I read my book. It is only then I find out the truth. The book might be riveting from the first word. It might take some persevering but then as the story unfolds I might find I can’t put it down. I might find it to be a struggle, but the ideas that unfold can be worth the effort to grasp. It might just be a complete waste of paper and ink.

We all use strategies and stereotypes as a form of mental shorthand to sort through the vast amount of information and opportunities that come our way every day. Who will I have lunch with? Where will we go? What will I order? We have to do this – our resources (such as time and energy) are limited and these ‘rules of thumb’ help us allocate these efficiently. The downside is that we can limit ourselves and others if we rely on convenient rules or stereotypes to guide our paths – that is we may decide to never sit down and read the book because we didn’t like the cover or the blurb on the back. Stereotypes are often formed by our experiences or biases, which could be right or they could be wrong. But either way, not everyone conforms to a stereotype.

Christians are stereotyped by others all the time but recently I encountered one from one of my non-Christian friends that I wasn’t aware of – that Christians should be nice and behave well. Furthermore the expectation was that my behaviour should be better than what she would expect of herself. I was taken aback by this. Her stereotype is that Christianity is harmless – evidenced by a nice neat life and polite behaviour. My experience of Christianity is that it is an amazing, chaotic and growing relationship with a living God, often involving mistakes but moving forward through love and grace. I clearly haven’t given my friend the opportunity to read the book that is me.

One response to this type of situation is to conform to the stereotype. I could try and behave more nicely around my friend, but that would hide the truth and perpetuate an incorrect stereotype. Christians shouldn’t buy into this lie. Encourage people in your life Christian and non-Christian alike to read your book, and understand your story. Sit down on the couch with a friend over a cup of coffee and understand their story no matter their cover. Move past the stereotypes and reveal the real person. You truly can’t judge a book until you’ve read it.

Angela Kasjan and her family are close and valued friends of John and Catherine Warren. We pray that they are blessed with  every good thing as they seek to love God and His people. We are grateful for their friendship, love, generosity and genuine care for us and people in general. We have opened their ‘book’ and found it to be the most amazing read ever.

Thank you for your valued contribution.

John and Catherine Warren

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