Choose your author before you buy the book. I recently read a new book about the bubonic plague and its effects on the history of Europe. While there were interesting tidbits, a common theme of the book seemed to rotate around one curious idea, that the plague produced the mindset for modern medical science. Why, the author speculates? It was because God did not answer the prayers of priests to end the plague and spare them. Therefore, in the minds of plague survivors, God was proven not to exist and man was free to pursue these scientific advances free of the yoke of religion and its backward mentality. Extensive research has gone into, and is still being generated, about the causes and primarily the transfer of the deadly germs which enlightens modern science in fantastic ways. However, to lay the entire conclusion that modern medicine was advanced on the one speculation that God did not exist because He did not answer a specific prayer is incredulous. After finding some information about the author, I had to conclude that while he had viable advanced degrees in legitimate subjects, his mind and experience were so skewed by his long association with liberal entities that he was the proverbial frog in the boiling pot, out to promote an agenda rather than to reveal history.

We have all read books we truly enjoyed and then later learned something about the author that tainted our image of the book or (better yet) made us re-read the book in a more discerning light. This is an important part of becoming an astute reader. Take an aisle tour of most current Christian book stores and you will find every bent of religion, cult, and philosophy on the shelf. If one were to read every work there and accept them all equally, no one would have any true knowledge and total confusion would reign. If you made everyone you came in contact with your best friend, you would suffer the same predicament and none of us is that indiscriminate in choosing associations which will continually influence us.

I fear the fault is with the lazy reader who doesn’t take the time to learn about the author before choosing to read a certain book. Reading is the same kind of continual influence as are our friendships and should be sought out carefully. Of course, if you understand that the author has an opposing position, you may choose to read for understanding of that position (the old “know your enemy” approach). This is healthy reading and necessary at times. For the feeding of the soul and mind, however, delve into the author before diving into the book.