a month of M’Cheyne

Anyone who has ever tried to create a new habit will have struggled, and have experimented with different ways to make it happen. This year, I’m trying to get into the habit of reading the bible – a bit each day. Specifically, I’m trying to read through the whole bible this year, which means reading a fair bit of it each day.

One such method of reading the bible was put together by the late Rev. R. M. M’Cheyne, and it’s a method that worked for me in the past: I printed out a list of what to read, and when, put that list into my bible, and stuck to it.

Each day, I’d open up my bible, look up the chapters, read through them. On a good day, I’d even spend some time thinking about what I’d read: the trouble with these methods is that you end up focussed on the destination (finishing the day’s reading), and so lose track of the journey (actually benefiting from reading the bible).

This year, I’m trying things a bit differently. Same method, but instead of reading it from a book, I’m subscribed to the RSS Feed of the ESV M’Cheyne plan.

Each day, about 4pm Australian time, the feed updates, bringing with it the full text of what I’m meant to read for the day. I can read it on-screen then and there, or I can wait a bit longer, and read it later. I can even print it out to read on the train!

I’ve noticed, though, that depending on what method I’m using to get the bible content

  • feed-reader program – mostly used for scanning large numbers of short articles
  • browser – speed reading longer articles
  • web print-out – usually used for articles that are interesting, but don’t need to be pondered
  • small bible that fits in my work bag: small print, usually used to check a few verses, not read long slabs of the bible
  • big bible that is kept in a bible cover: used for everyday reading, and also for bible study and sermon preparation

my attitude to the exact same words is slightly different. There’s a greater sense of reverence that comes from picking up a book and reading it than any of the other methods.

Is it possible to read the bible on-screen? Of course it is! Is it the same as reading a book? I don’t think so. There are a lot more distractions inherent to the screen-reading process.

Am I going to stop using the RSS feed? No. It’s still a useful reminder that I’m aiming to read the bible every day, and bible reading is too important a habit to have fall by the way-side so easily.

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