Philip Yancey on reading and building a ‘fortress of habits’

Read. Think. Meditate/Pray. Listen.

Who among us does enough of these vital activities? Who has the time?

Who has the power to turn away from our Facebook feeds, tweets and texts, television ads, sidebars and come-ons — even our Distractor-in-Chief — to do the things we know would nourish us emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually?

Religious writer Philip Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace and many other books) has an interesting and perceptive take on all of this in a recent article published by the Washington Post.

The death of reading is threatening the soul – The Washington Post 

Yancey cites the many distractions of modern life, especially those brought on our technology:

We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons. 

Yancey quotes Warren Buffett on the need to build a “fortress of habits,” writing:

Willpower alone is not enough, he (Buffett) says. We need to construct what he calls “a fortress of habits.” I like that image. Recently I checked author Annie Dillard’s website, in which she states, “I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.” Now that’s a fortress.

People such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Mark Cuban have such a fortress, and their fortresses are devoted reading. Buffett says he reads 500 pages a day.

Technology is a problem, but it is not The Problem. We make the choices of how we spend our time. Technology often helps us make the wrong choice.

Hat-tip to Shane Parrish and his Farnham Street’s Brain Food newsletter for pointing to this article.

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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