Roam enhances intersection with great texts. One of the texts that has impacted Western civilization in positive and negative ways is the Christian Bible. As an Evangelical Christian, the Bible stands as an essential guide to my faith, and guides my opposition against the teaching of much of today’s American Evangelicalism. Rightly parsing the text is important to me in my role as a justice advocate who opposes nationalistic religion.
However I am not writing this piece to persuade readers with a religious argument, but rather to stress that Roam is a great tool for the textual analysis of great texts. Broadly defined, great texts can certainly mean classical Eastern and Western religious and wisdom texts. More narrowly defined, we might consider great texts those that have shaped and impacted civilization. These might be historical, literary, philosophical or scientific texts such as Magna Carta; the Constitution of the United States of America; The Arabian Nights; Homer’s Odyssey; Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason; Darwin’s On the Origin of Species; or The Analects by Confucius.
There might also be more contemporary works that have had tremendous impact on individuals and society that are considered great and worth parsing. These might include such works as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig or How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler.
You can either import the text itself into the pages of Roam or just include your key thoughts as you interact with the text to work through its meaning. You might think of this as a conversation with great minds that you hold within your extended brain. As you engage in these conversations, questioning, agreeing and disagreeing, your thinking will grow richer. This will take work. It will take thinking to give you a meaningful record of your conversation with the text, its author(s) and ideas.
Setting Up the Text For Context
I find it valuable to place some of the great texts I am studying into Roam itself. Generally, I prefer to do this manually, in order to produce the consistency I want for study. However, if I do import a text, I usually modify it somewhat to achieve the same results. In order to parse accurately, I need to also be able to determine context — especially with a religious text such as the Bible.
I have set up the New Testament book Romans in the following way. First by chapters using the ESV (English Standard Version) translation:
Then, the text is set up for viewing in context:
From within the context, I am able to parse into the verse level while maintaining context thanks to the Linked References:
Here, I can see an overview of the Book of Romans, put it in historical context, note key words in the text, view the Greek text in line with the ESV text, and list resources that I find useful in my work within the text.
Under the Commentary bullet, I place my own thoughts as I am in interaction with this portion of the text. As you can see below, I can make this as detailed as I need to convey my thoughts. What you are seeing is essentially an outline for teaching Romans 1:1. Although I’ve Roamed in Romans through Roam, I haven’t gotten very far yet! However there is enough already here that I can easily use for several purposes.
So what is the value of this type of study in a great text? Certainly, you can’t do this sort of study in all the great books you read. There’s not enough lifetime for this task. But there are texts that resonate with you, and are useful to help you work with your Inner Being. These sorts of texts help you discover what it means to be in the world, or help you learn how others discovered their sense of being (as in the case of Paul through Christian faith).
Working with Your Inner Being
It might be helpful for me to provide a definition for working with your Inner Being (or your spiritual life). This is simply the work you do with your inner, invisible self. It is the inner work that reflects the outward actions that enable you to build community, value others, and help produce the necessary change that is needed in our hearts, our society and our world.
So whether you believe in a god or an afterlife or not, you certainly can believe in your own “spiritual” self — that inner person who is seeking inward and outward consistency with their faith, values, and reason.
It is through the process of engagement with our inner selves that the hidden parts of our thinking are revealed. Our conscious minds are able to engage with our unconscious minds, and make changes in our thinking that align us more closely with the values we follow to direct our lives.
Acting in the World in Line with Your Inner Being
That is the purpose of this kind of textual analysis. As you parse the text, you discover yourself, and you challenge yourself to act in the world in line with your values and sense of purpose while being true to yourself. Through engagement with the text, you learn how to more effectively engage with the world through conversation with great and unique minds who have left a trail for you to follow in order to develop into your own great and unique self.
At the same time, you develop a sense of the greatness of all humans. You also hopefully develop the humility to see many of them in a similar light, giving grace along the way, while maintaining a sense of rightness and justice that helps in your fight against evil — that which brings harm to our fellow human beings. You learn how to be in the world.
Reflecting on Your Progress
As you learn how to be in the world and do this hard work, you are not only laying out a path for yourself. As you engage with the text within the pages of Roam, you are also creating a map of your journey. You are measuring your progress in the inner world, and discovering truths that you can teach others to help them along on their journey. There are many ways you can do this. For me, my use of Roam has enabled me to create a process that allows me to do the deep work of the spirit that such thinking requires more easily.
It has been a joy to write out these thoughts, and I am happy to interact with anyone who might have further questions on my process, as we all work to ensure that our true selves are reflected in this world we inhabit. Feel free to reach out via the contact details provided below if you would like to have further discussion about working with your Inner Being.