in which i’m not promiscuous enough about books
Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read. ~John Milton in Areopagitica
“I’m bored.” She lets the last word whine long and wind down.
This does not compute. How can anyone be bored? When the world is full of wonder and the shelves are full of books?
But she doesn’t want to read.
This does not compute.
I remind Grace that I read whatever I could get my hands on growing up, from Little Women and Little House to the Bobbsey Twins to my great-grandmother’s Book-of-the-Month Club selections, some of which were probably too old for me. I was seldom without a book in hand.
I could have been booked for the reading of many books–including those found buried in the depths of the bathroom closet of the little house and the theft of Bambi from the school library, taken home to hand copy word for word.
Now I’m swallowed up in Karen Swallow Prior’s book, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me.
I know that spiritual formation is of God, but I also know–mainly because I learned it from books–that there are other kinds of formation, too, everyday gifts, and that God uses the things of this earth to teach us, to shape us, and to help us find truth. ~p. 10
And I want to reach out and hug her because I get this. But I also realize as I savor her words, I’ve not been nearly promiscuous enough in my reading. I’ve missed so much.
I got an email back in August from a woman who has since unsubscribed from my blog. It was after I posted this, and she wrote:
I wondered, where was the Bible? Somewhere in it is a verse that says…’In the making of many books is no end…’ He is a jealous God. He is a consuming fire, Sandra. I know you love to write and to read. But it can become so time robbing . . . And, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. So, maybe it’s something for you to consider, to pray about. More of REALITY, and less of book knowledge. CHRIST is the WAY, THE REALITY, AND THE LIFE…That’s all I wanted to share. Even ‘spiritual books’ can become a trap if not carefully chosen. Praying for you.
That’s bothered me for all these months as I’ve tried to shed more and more “stuff,” but am still unable to part with so many “friends.”
But then I read this from Karen:
I thought my love of books was taking me away from God, but as it turns out, books were the backwoods path back to God, bramble-filled and broken, yes, but full of truth and wonder. ~p. 11
I read more and more books, and, by exposure to so many competing ideas and examples, I gained a more truthful understanding of the nature of of love and life and relationships–and drugs–and so much more.This is why books should be ‘promiscuously read.’ ~ p. 19
It’s surprising, I think, to realize that pious and scholarly Milton is actually arguing for indiscriminate, disorderly reading. And lots of it. In making his argument, as a churchman speaking to fellow churchmen, Milton cites the biblical examples of Moses, Daniel, and Paul, who were all steeped in the writings of their surrounding pagan cultures . . . The “best books,” Milton argues, “to a naughty mind are not unappliable to occasions of evil.” On the other hand, “bad books,” Milton continues “to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, to illustrate.” p 22-23
Giving thanks in community with Ann.
1. A desire to chase after God.
2. A love of beauty.
3. A love for words.
4. A nuthatch on a tree branch.
5. Three cats lying in the sunshine.
6. Homemade hummus.
7. “I love you, Nama.”
8. Vintage spoons (with S’s and K’s.)
9. A blue Precious Moments manger scene tree ornament from my mom.
10. Making memories at a grandgirl’s basketball game.
11. Seeing clearly through new windows.
12. Fresh berries in the fridge.
13. Open vessels in my heart.
15. The Book.
16. A grandgirl’s morning smile before school.
17. Finding forgotten “puppy chow” tucked behind the carseat–for Sissy love.
18. A new catalytic combustor and heat from the wood stove now working.