Scan Reading – Summary Reading

I have a confession to make, I rarely read all of a document.

Jimmy and Granddad visit Alnwick GardensThere, I’ve said it, it’s out in the open.

Why should I? It’s rare that the whole of a document, or to that matter, an email or a blog, has been written wholly with me in mind.

It’s been written to communicate something, so I need to be able to read enough of the document to understand what is being communicated, to the level that I need to understand it.

It’s not a productive use of my time to read all of a document when I’ve understood what needs to be understood by only reading part of it.

I’m sorry if that sounds a bit harsh, but it is the reality of the world in which I live.

It’s a skill that has been born out of necessity. In the technical industry people don’t generally rank too highly on the spectrum of brevity. It’s much more likely that people will say too much than not enough.

One of the first lesson I learnt in summary reading was that you can’t get a summary of a document from the section title Introduction and certainly not from the section titled Executive Summary. I always thought it was a rather cruel trick to expect people who have not been executives to know what an executive might want to know about in a summary – assuming, of course, that a Technical Executive wants to read the same summary as a Project Executive or Finance Executive.

The need to understand a document at the summary level is one reason why I still print out quite a lot of documents. There have been all sorts of advances in screen technology and displays, but I still haven’t found one that allows me to flick through a document, forwards and backwards,

I wrote a bit more about this in an earlier post on scan reading.

Knowing that most of you haven’t even got this far I’ll finish there.

Blessings #148 – Reading the Ancient Stories

I’m quite an avid reader and normally have something in my hands to read, even if it’s just my BlackBerry. One of the things that I try to do is to make reading the Bible a regular activity in my life.

SunsetThe Bible is still hugely relevant to today’s society. Amongst all of the words and events described, those of Jesus stand out as shining lights.

Over the last 60 days, or so, I’ve been re-reading the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each day as I’ve read I’ve tried to take time to think about what it means – to wrestle with the profound.

In our busy frantic world it’s not always easy to focus our lives on the important things. So rather than try to take in all of the passage that I’ve read, I’ve taken to writing down a single short verse from the text and thinking about that.
Taking just a small morsel gave me something to focus on and I’ve really enjoyed it.

The word “profound” is an over-used word, I find, so it doesn’t really give across the true meaning to describe the words of Jesus as profound, but profound is the best word that I could think of.

1.penetrating or entering deeply into subjects of thought or knowledge; having deep insight or understanding.
2.originating in or penetrating to the depths of one’s being.
3.being or going far beneath what is superficial, external, or obvious.
4.of deep meaning; of great and broadly inclusive significance.
5.pervasive or intense; thorough; complete.
6.extending, situated, or originating far down, or far beneath the surface.

Through the simplest of parables Jesus strikes through our day-to-day worries and shows us the depths of God’s love and compassion; he cuts away at our pride and demonstrates our utter reliance upon God’s grace towards us; he takes our gaze beyond the hear and now and shows us the source of our hope.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Luke 15

Jesus questioned provides laser sharp answers that resolve the core question, there’s no messing about with the peripheral issues. Why answer the insignificant when there’s a real deep felt question to answer. But he wasn’t beyond using his answers to demonstrate the utter foolishness of someone’s position.

That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

They said, “Caesar.”

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.

Mathew 22

Through his actions he demonstrates a way of life that I find so counter-cultural that it challenges my actions and my attitudes. Penetrating to the depths of one’s being.

I find that if I get to far removed from these ancient stories I start to wander and to let confusion come in. The words and actions of Jesus break through all of that and demonstrate to me true value and eternal worth.

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