What Does Reading with Discernment Mean
and How To Do It For Yourself
What does it mean to Read with Discernment?
Reading with discernment involves the ability to critically evaluate the content of a text and the perspective of the author.
How do YOU See the World?
A worldview is a person's fundamental beliefs about the nature of reality and their place in the world. Have you considered what your worldview is? This is an important part of being discerning. If you do not know what you believe to be true then you will believe whatever comes your way!
Define Your Worldview
To define your own worldview, consider your values, beliefs, and assumptions about the world and your place in it. Reflect on the experiences and influences that have shaped your perspective and how they have shaped your understanding of the world. Understanding your own worldview can help you to better understand and communicate with others who may have different perspectives.
The Author's Worldview
It is to be expected that an author's personal beliefs will influence their writing. However, it's important to be aware of these biases and to approach the text by questioning and evaluating the arguments and evidence presented.
Important Things to Know to Interpret the Message
In order to understand and interpret the message we must consider:
the author's personal beliefs
the author's biases
the context in which the text was written
The Author's Personal Beliefs
One way to begin reading with discernment is to research the author and their background. This can provide valuable context and insight into their perspective and the possible influences on their writing.
The Authors Experience Bias
Your author will also have personal life experiences that they bring to the table. Take some time to research their life experiences, what they valued, what difficulties were present in their life. How might they see the world based on these experiences?
Context (when where and to whom it was written)
It can also be helpful to consider the time period in which the text was written, as cultural and societal norms can greatly impact an author's perspective and the reception of their work.
How Does it Compare to Your Worldview?
Pay attention to the evidence and arguments presented in the text. Do the author's claims align with what you already know to be true, or do they contradict it?
Some parts of your worldview will be non-negotiable. If the author is presenting a view in contradiction to these it is valuable to recognize that and root it out. Know what you are reading or else the emotion and love for the characters may make you susceptible to their ideas and ideals.
If this is a non-literature piece of writing, does the author provide evidence to support their claims, or are they relying on emotional appeals or personal anecdotes? Evaluating the quality and credibility of the evidence can help to determine the overall reliability and validity of the author's arguments. Check the sources and reliability of the claims.
Should I Consider Revising my Worldview?
Our worldview is created of some negotiable and some non-negotiable pieces.
Which parts of your worldview are non-negotiable?
For me, my belief in the absolute supremacy of God and the need for God's salvation through faith in Jesus are non-negotiable. When I read, I aim to be aware of the author's views and intentions in these areas so that I can confront them in my mind. Some other of my views are not foundational and may change; these may include political views and the like. In these areas, it is valuable to listen to the author with an open mind, questioning their ideas against reason and evidence. At times, I will need to do further research to determine if perhaps I am mistaken. It is a valuable process to listen respectfully, understand another person's views and then choose to accept or reject them.
Guard the Non-Negotiables
How can you protect the pieces of your worldview that are absolutely not negotiable? Should you just refuse to read anything or listen to anyone who disagrees?
Here is how you can protect what is dear to your heart:
1. be aware - be prepared Know the author's beliefs and experiences.
2. read together Especially for teens, it is valuable to read literature together so you can discuss the values and beliefs of the author that come through. Questioning is not wrong - it is a valuable part of growing up; we all must question and re-choose on a regular basis what we believe to be true.
3. ask questions What do I believe about this? What does the Bible say? What have I been taught? Is this logical? What parts of the story and character make me want to believe this?
4. just say no. Some pieces of literature just may not be right for you. Do some research about them before you read and do not be afraid to just put it down and stop reading.