Appreciating a work of art

How to Slow Down and Savor the Scriptures

Is speed-reading the scriptures a regular habit? This principle for appreciating art may aid in slowing down and savoring the word of God once again.

I dreamed of seeing the painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I for almost ten years. When I finally stood in the main room of the Neue Galerie, I was completely in awe of the ornate painting by Gustav Klimt. Other museum visitors casually milled around me, but I couldn’t stop staring at Adele’s portrait, savoring every last detail. I’m not sure how long I stood in front of the painting, but as I turned to leave, I remember wishing I could stay there just a bit longer.

"If a work of fine art deserves to be appreciated through slow looking, maybe the Book of Mormon deserves our slow reading." --Ted Barnes

Image by Steve Johnson

Ted Barnes identifies this practice as “slow looking”—a practice that museums encourage guests to use as they appreciate art. Barnes also suggests that this practice doesn’t apply only to art: “If a work of fine art deserves to be appreciated through slow looking, maybe the Book of Mormon deserves our ‘slow reading.’”

I paused after reading Barnes’s words. The principle of “slow looking” was very familiar to me—I could spend hours roaming art museums and admiring the beauty within. But the thought of spending hours reading scriptures? Hard pass. 

However, Barnes clarifies that slow reading “doesn’t necessarily mean our scripture study needs to take longer, just that we might benefit from a change of pace.” It struck me that perhaps I needed to slow down my scriptures to observe the verses and doctrines at different angles, just as I might study my favorite painting up close and from a distance. Perhaps I needed to take time to savor the truths I had already come to know and love and find joy in rediscovering them, just as I might find joy revisiting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

So I took Barnes’s advice, and as I’ve begun practicing slow, focused reading in my personal scripture study of the Book of Mormon, I’ve found myself thinking something I usually reserve for quiet museum halls: “I wish I could stay here just a bit longer.” 

To learn more about how slowing down when reading scriptures can help us find joy and fulfillment in the scriptures, read Ted Barnes’s full article, “Slow Reading: Seeing the Savior in the Scriptures.” 

—Sarah Griffin Anderson, Latter-day Saint Insights



Find more insights

For more ideas on how to make the most out of scripture study when we’re short on time, read “What’s the Secret to Scripture Study?” by Alison Brimley, Latter-day Saint Insights

If you’re looking for specific ways to improve your scripture study, take a look at “3 Ways to Improve Your Scripture Study” by Lauren Buchanan, Latter-day Saint Insights.

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