As I mentioned in an earlier post, I continue to work nearly non-stop for my job. While that leaves little time or energy for leisure, I find ways to stay entertained. While not always possible, I find I can listen to audio books while typing in invoices, spreadsheets and the such. Recently, I picked up “Fahrenheit 451,” a sci fi fiction novel that I read decades ago in High School. While I enjoyed this back in the day, reading it again as a mature follower of Christ provided a new perspective on Ray Bradbury’s tale of the confused fireman.
For those who may not know, “Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury, published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The title refers to the temperature that Bradbury asserted to be the autoignition temperature of paper. The novel has been the subject of interpretations focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas” (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451 )
The plot of the book goes deeper than simply burning all books. In this story, they author explores the idea of a society where no ‘great thinkers’ exist. Indeed, the vast majority of the population engages in purely superficial discussion, spurred on by shallow entertainment. While books are outlawed, and merely possessing one may result in a fireman burning your house to the ground, even those who think more deeply on the things of life are considered irritating at best, and dangers to society at worst.
At one point, the main character, struggling with his conflicting thoughts and emotions, asks his friend, an old English professor, what he needs to do next. The professor says that we need quality in our thinking. Books provide that, as they dive into great detail about subjects. However, we can get that from other sources such as certain movies, or walking around in nature. Next, we need ‘leisure time.’ By this, the professor speaks of time to truly think over things, not time to play. In fact, the people, constantly entertained by TV and whatnot, lack this…they are never really allowed time to think deeply on subjects, for themselves. Finally, the professor says that we need the right, or ability, to carry out actions based on our thoughts.
While I do not believe that the author wrote this from a Christian perspective, I cannot help but think of it from this angle. Indeed, I feel that many in our society rarely take the time to truly think through the deeper matters of life and faith. They have opinions, and, when confronted, can rattle off sound bites. However, their opinions and convictions lack texture and depth. When pressed further, most people will say that they simply lack the time to think more deeply on such subjects.
As far as ability to change the world around us, our culture is slowly eroding that. Christians who share Biblical teachings on sin find themselves under increasing fire from liberals and young people. Even when sharing these viewpoints in love, such approaches may even be labeled as hate speech. Increasingly, people are forming their opinions based on television drama and clips, rather than deep, insightful conversation and study.
In reading the Bible, we see that many of the saints spent much time in prayer, quiet retrospection and study. Contrary to common belief, Christian faith is not simply a blind trust in the unseen. God calls us to study, pray, and reason together using our minds and logic. But, do not count on many Americans to read the Bible thoughtfully to find that out for themselves. They would rather watch a few sound bites showing Christians as religious fanatics who reject science and clear ‘reason.’
Regardless, in reading this book, I find myself with a larger concern for my siblings in faith. Satan attacks them to insure that they lack both time to think through their faith, and the opportunity to put it into meaningful action. This effectively neuters the Christian, rendering them ineffective as a beacon of light and hope to the world around them.
Let’s be aware of the enemy’s strategy, so we can better defend against it. No matter how busy you find yourself, take time to listen to God. Search Him out! Study diligently, even if it means listening to books, sermons, etc., in the car on the drive to work. Find friends who you can have meaningful, deep conversations with (if you need one, feel free to reach out to me!). As the Bible says, “Come now, let us reason together.”
I highly encourage everyone to listen or read the book. If you don’t have the time, you can check out the Cliff Notes version. All are linked below. If you do, let me know what you think!
Phil’s email: jcservant at cyberlightcomics dot com
By His Grace,
Phil aka JCServant