CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 August 2018

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Revisiting the topic of reading

By the time this paper reaches your hands, the Hong Kong Book Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be entering its final days. The annual event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and has become a spectacular summer event over the years.
 
Outside of the book fair, many publishers and bookshops also made use of the period to organise related activities in other places in an attempt to promote people’s reading habits.
 
While the number of visitors is promising, how is the reading culture in our society doing? A survey on Reading for All 2018, released by the Hong Kong Publishing Professionals Society in April, states that nearly 70 per cent of about 2,000 people surveyed over the phone had the habit of reading printed books. 
 
Nearly 60 per cent of adults read one to three hours every week and over 60 per cent read one to two books every month. It is worth noting that the those surveyed spend considerable time reading online  (60 per cent spending three hours a day). 
 
When you have the option of accessing information from social media platforms via mobile phone, why is it still necessary to promote reading?
 
Reading habits reflect an attitude. Nowadays, when mobile phones are always in people’s hands, reading printed books, to a certain degree, requires people to slow down their pace and settle their state of mind. For the Church, reading has always been an important way of nurturing spirituality. St. Benedict’s monastic tradition emphasises prayer, labour and scriptural reading.
 
According to Catholic bookshops, different versions of the Bible topped the bestsellers. However, one should not neglect essays on spirituality and life. These allow readers to rest and think about the beauty and goodness of faith and life.
 
In last week’s editorial, we suggested that the Church organise reading groups where people can share insights with one another. The close connection between the content of the books and our daily lives can further strengthen a sense of community.
 
Hong Kong has a number of Catholic publishers, run by either the diocese or religious congregations and by lay Catholics. The decree of Vatican II, On the Means of Social Communications (Inter Mirifica), explains the role of the Church in the field of communications and says: 
 
“First, a good press should be fostered. To instill a fully Christian spirit into readers, a truly Catholic press should be set up and encouraged … with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts. Moreover, the faithful ought to be advised of the necessity both to spread and read the Catholic press to formulate Christian judgments for themselves on all events” (#14). The document is still valid 50 years after its publication. SE