Bibliophilia

June 13, 2010

General

I’m not a prolific reader.  That’s part of the problem.  I am, though, certifiably, a bibliophile.  A lover of books. 

I’m not sure how I got this way.  By the providence of God here I am, but I remember it all starting in the 4th grade.  We had a year long reading challenge and every time you finished a book, and gave a brief oral report, you received a star on the book reading chart.  I had many, many more stars than the next student.  I was infamous for my elementary elocutionary book review style.

Back then the condition of rampant bibliophilia was actually encouraged behavior.  I don’t recall my parents ever staging an intervention.  I wasn’t hauled off to reform school (not reformed school which is where I’m at now) nor was I sent to one of those anonymous groups.  No, I was left alone to assuage my addiction with whatever paperback or hardcover or magazine I could find (there sure were some interesting pictures in those Nat Geos). 

When I was a pre-teen, during summer vacation, I remember reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Ludlum and C.S. Lewis for hours at a time, often spending entire days turning pages.  My thoughts would spin to heights unknown, embodying characters, and fantasizing about achieving great victories over evil villains.  Yes, my path was established.

If my book habit was only known to a few people back then, well that all changed in high school when I joined the Book-of-the-Month club.  No, I wasn’t playing baseball or working on cars like some of my friends.  Oh no, I was catching up on the latest offering from Gore Vidal.

But it wasn’t until I began working at the local grocery store that I started to loose my innocence.  It was there that I met Stephen Dedalus (see footnote).  A burgeoning literary student with aspirations of writing, I had finally met someone who read more than me.  Being five or six years my senior, he had a professorial air about him.  Astute and articulate, he told of the many splendors to be found in Hesse and Updike; and as he testified of the modern literary genre, he pontificated about the inner man,… all as we stocked the pork and beans.

So off to the local library I went.  My summer that year was filled with the likes of “Siddhartha”, “Rabbit Run”, and “Job, A Comedy of Justice.”  Clearly I was far from Christ.  The elements of Christian writing that I was experiencing in my circles seemed shallow and unimportant.  Here, finally, were “Real” books; serious contemplation of the human condition.  Really, relevant good stuff.

I was left naked before a humanistic world view. 

But enough digression.  How does this end, you say?  Well, it was my addiction that lead me towards a ruinous state, but it was God’s feeding of my addiction, properly, that has lead to my current, reformed state.  Over that past several years my reading has been in large measure, Scriptural; Sarcalogos-Christ the incarnate Word.  Who better for a bibliophile to cleave to for reading material?

There are some who can digest a heavy volume in a single day.  I, however, tend to be much more methodical.  I love books, but I just can’t go through them quickly.  I have half a dozen going now, and probably always will.  Which, brings me full circle back to why I started this post.  If you’re looking for continuity, don’t follow this blog.  Reading for me is like floating on deep water.  Sometimes I’m within sight of the shore, other times I’m out in the Gulf Stream trolling for trophy thoughts.  The kiss of death, when considering ideas for posts, has been to start a ‘series’ on a topic.  There are too many good books, and too many ideas and thoughts about Christ for me to dwell a long time on just one.  I guess my curiosity steers my focus.  Ergo, I tend to jump around a bit. 

Hopefully you can see through the jesting.  Within the realm of Reformed thought, which is what this blog focuses on, are myriads of wonderful topics.  Christ has blessed us with many tremendous scholors, past and present.  In truth, it’s not the books, but what’s in them.  Stay with me as we go from place to place.

(footnote: Actually Stephen Dedalus was James Joyce’s alter ego and a character used within much of his work including “Ulysses.”  My co-worker’s name was, I believe, Steve Hickoff (It’s been 25 years).  I’m sure he’d be amused with me referring to him in such a way.   He was an engaging and interesting individual, and I’d like to know things have gone for him over these many years.)

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