Many of you might remember this set of strategies from your days in English. It's based on the idea that readers should be actively seeking to connect the text they are reading with themselves, with other texts, and with their worlds. This is a pretty standard reading practice; here is what www.facinghistory.org has to say about it:
“Reading comes alive when we recognize how the ideas in the text connect to our experiences and beliefs, events happening in the larger world, our understanding of history, and our knowledge of other texts. “Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World” is a strategy that helps students develop the habit of making these connections. By giving a purpose to students’ reading (i.e. focusing students on paying close attention to text to find connections), this strategy helps students comprehend and make meaning of the ideas in the text. This strategy can be used when reading any text – historical or literary – and it can also be used with other media as well, including films. It can be used at the beginning, middle or end of the reading process – to get students engaged with a text, to help students understand the text more deeply or to evaluate students’ understanding of the text.”
A. Before Reading:
Select a text. Go ahead and read it through once to get the general idea.
*For my sample, I’ll be reading Luke 14:15-23, The Parable of the Great Banquet*
This is a parable I’ve already read / heard dozens of times. When I read it today, however, I knew I would be attempting to create three types of connections, so I tuned in in a different way. I was alert for ways I could relate it to other texts, to myself, and my world – I have a purpose for reading, and as a result I’m more engaged than I normally would be when reading a parable I feel I already "know".
B. While Reading: We’re going to use the Facing History framework of questions here. There is a simple set for each connection type. I’ll list them, then provide my sample thinking in italics. Notice you’re asked to complete ONE sentence stem for each type. It’s not meant to be overwhelming – just to give a few options as you think about the text!
Consider, then complete, one of the following statements:
1. What I just read reminds me of ___________________ (story/book/movie/song) because...
2. The ideas in this text are similar to the ideas in ___________________ because….
3. The ideas in this text are different than the ideas in ___________________ because….
What I just read reminds me of the story about Mary and Martha, because Jesus is in their home to speak with them and minister to them, but Martha cannot be fully present because she is so BUSY – busy preparing the meal and being a hostess. Mary, however, realizes that the presence of Christ is of paramount importance, and must be treasured above other earthly things. As I read verses 15-20, I read about people doing good, or at least reasonable, things. No one refused to follow because they wanted to run off and commit evil sins! But Jesus’ response to Martha is telling – “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) In our parable, verse 24 reflects the other side of the coin – those who turn down the invitation of Christ to do other things are left behind, and “shall not taste my banquet”.
*I happened to make a text –to-text connection between scriptures. This may happen, or it may not. Your connection may be to a book, story, song, or movie – any other created work, really.
1.What I just read reminds me of the time when I….
2. I agree with/understand what I just read because in my own life...
3. I don't agree with what I just read because in my own life...
I understand what I just read because in my own life I tend to come up with excuses to avoid invitations. I appreciate being asked to your party/get together/social event, but I just get overwhelmed, and I find a reason it won’t work for me. I know that I do that to real people in my actual life – the heart check is to ask myself if I do that to Christ as well. Have I become so accustomed to excusing myself from uncomfortable situations that I’m not stepping out in faith and responding the call of Christ?
*I didn't use it here, but I love number 3. Sometimes my most powerful conversations with Christ, and indeed my biggest heart revelations, come from a place of “I don’t agree because in my own life…”. Use this response as a jumping off point and see where Christ leads you!
1. What I just read makes me think about _________________________ (event from the past) because……
2. What I just read makes me think about _________________________ (event from today related to my own community, nation or world) because….
3. What I just read makes me wonder about the future because….
What I just read makes me wonder about the future, because I wonder if it is a statement about the end times, in a way. As time continues, God is inviting us into his banquet, and asking us to join him. Ultimately, his servant goes to the highways and hedges and invites everyone – there is no one who is not welcome! And ultimately, those who rejected that call are no longer welcome to even taste a morsel of the banquet. On Judgement Day, I imagine that those who refused the invitation in lieu of “other things” will remember that decision and wish they could somehow go back in time and accept the calling of Christ.
C. After Reading: Take a few minutes to read back over your responses, digesting what you wrote, then read back over the text you chose.
Has your understanding of the text changed? Deepened? Adjusted?
Is there anything you want to study further, now that you’ve had a chance to ruminate on your reflections?
*I would spend some time in prayer and journaling about anything that struck me from my responses. Personally, I might go back to the text-to-self connection answer I created, and seriously question how and where this occurs in my walk with Christ. I also want to look at my text-to-world response, because I think there is a connection between the parable and Christ's first invitation to the Jews, then later the Gentiles, but I can't quite remember the details of that.
Each person’s ultimate response will be different, just as each person’s connections will necessarily be different as well.
Thank you for trying out Strategy One – Making Connections!
This strategy can be used with any text, and is a great way to push yourself into thinking a little more deeply. It also adds perspective and depth, particularly to those passages we feel like we already “know” or have read many times.
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