Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut with your scripture study?  Chas Hathaway can fix that.  His new book Scripture Study Made Awesome is all about spicing it up.  The subtitle promises “Over 100 Unique Scriptures Study Methods You’ve Probably Never Tried.”  Just to make sure there were 100 methods, I counted.  (I had to count, because they weren’t numbered.) It turns out that there are 133 methods, so this book delivers much more than promised.

Before Hathaway starts sharing scripture study methods, he spends a little time educating the reader about important preliminaries, such as:

·      how we can get motivated to study the scriptures if we are not yet interested
·      the difference between a study medium and a study method
·      what study media we can use--books, notebooks, computer, mobile devices, etc. (This shows us that we don’t necessarily have to use the scriptures in book form; we can use other creative ways)
·      what sources are worthy of study in addition to the scriptures

If you thought that only the scriptures were worth studying, Hathway points out other sacred sources we can go to--general conference addresses, other talks by general authorities, hymns, church manuals, patriarchal blessings, journals, church magazines, etc.—which can have a nice horizon-widening effect, kick-start us out of malaise, and even give us focus.

Hathway’s collection of study methods really runs the gamut and contains enough options for just about everybody.  He shares marking methods, semi-traditional look-for methods, marathon-speed-reading methods, self-discovery methods, question asking and answering methods, deep study methods, creative methods, and methods specifically for families with children. 

Just as an example, two easy options from the “Semi-Traditional Methods” chapter that really tickled me were the following:
·      Random relatedness—open to two random places and chose one verse from each place, then think about how they are related to each other.
·      Lovenotes—Open the scriptures believing that the first thing you see is a lovenote from Heavenly Father.

I suppose I should warn you, while this book will help you answer the question “What can I do to study the scriptures?” you may next face the question, “What method should I try first?” and that may be harder to answer, especially with so many intriguing methods to choose from.  I really think there are a lifetime’s worth of ideas here to try.. and possibly more.

Besides all the great study methods in this book, I think there are three additional features that make it even more excellent.  First, Hathaway anticipates those who might ask, “Which method is best for me?” by including some charts listing which methods are geared toward particular intellectual tendencies, mood, or family situation (with page numbers for easy findage).  Second, he includes some pretty inspiring personal stories about his experiences with building a scripture study habit, pondering apparently contradictory scriptures, and giving his scriptures to others.  Third, he incorporates a fair number of quotes from general authorities about methods they use to study the scriptures.  Seeing the methods our leaders use gives us a sense of their spiritual maturity and insight and also helps us see how we can improve our own study methods in ways that will yield more insight.  I found their methods very intriguing.

Now, at the end of all this, you may ask, “But is this book fun to read?”  Don’t worry, it is.  Chas Hathaway is an enthusiastic member of the church, and his energy comes through in his writing.  His style is brisk, eager, and positive.  He doesn’t waste text or your time. 

If you are one who loves to read the scriptures, yet sometimes find yourself getting a little bored and need something to get you motivated to study again, this book is for you.  If you are not in the habit of reading your scriptures every day, this book is still for you because you’ll find lots of ideas for how to start the habit in a way that works for you.  

After writing my review, I had some questions for Chas, and he was kind enough to answer them.

Michaela: So, Chas, what’s the story behind your decision to write this book?

Chas: This book has been nagging me for many years now. It finally got to the point where I couldn't keep it in any longer, so I finally wrote it, and I'm so glad I did! Already people are saying how much it has helped their personal scripture study.

Michaela: How did you come up with all those different scripture study methods?  Did you ask all your friends and family?  

Chas: Honestly, most of the ideas are methods I've used over the years. About ten or fifteen are from friends and family, and a few are ideas I've always wanted to try. It used to puzzle me when someone in church would say, "The way I read scriptures is..." and then they'd list some method they consistently use. Maybe I'm just neurotic or something, but I love love LOVE trying all different kinds of methods. For me, it keeps my study fresh, interesting, and always in the mode of discovery. Whenever I feel my scripture study getting a little dry, I switch methods, and it always makes for a better experience.

Michaela: How many of the scripture study methods have you tried?

Chas: I'd guess I've actually used about 90% of the methods I mention in the book. Like I said, I'm probably neurotic, but I love approaching the scriptures in new and exciting ways. There are methods I've tried in the past that didn't work so well, and I didn't include those in the book. Of the methods I haven't tried, I only included the ones I thought I'd like to someday try.

Michaela: What scripture study method are you currently using?  How has it helped you?

Chas: Right now I'm in the process of transferring all the notes, quotes, and study helps from my old electronic scriptures (basically a huge word document with hundreds of endnotes) to my online account scriptures. It's been fun to rediscover what I learned before. It's amazing how many times I find something I don't remember ever writing. I'm also excited about having my scriptures, with all my footnotes, explanations, favorite quotes, and thoughts organized and accessible from anywhere, since I can carry my android everywhere.

Michaela:  Do you have a favorite method or style of method that you find yourself usually gravitating toward?

Chas: I don't know if I have a consistent favorite, but there are several I return to often:
a. Create your own topical guide. I call mine "Scripture Subject Index." It's a document that's getting too big. But with the church's scripture tagging system, I may end up moving it to mobile... we'll see.
b. Study while up and about. I'll often turn on audio scriptures and general conference talks while doing the dishes or working on a project.
c. Read cover to cover. It's been awhile since I've actually 'read' cover to cover, but I've listened to the standard works cover to cover several times over the years.
d. Create your own footnote system. I keep coming back and adding to my footnotes. I'm trying to catch up to Elder Packer.
e. Monologue reading. I only do this with family scripture study these days, but it works well to keep the kids (and the parents) interested.
f. Read a movie. This one's become harder with munchkins around, since it takes more concentration and undivided attention than most, but I do like it, and come back to it every few months or so.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment.

I love the scriptures. I love studying the word of God. I like to tell people, if you don't find the scriptures fascinating and fun to read, it's just because you haven't yet found a method that works for you. Keep trying stuff.

And there you have it, folks, in his own words.  Thanks for all the hard work you've done on this book, Chaz!

      Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a PDF of the book mentioned above for free. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Continue reading at the original source →