As I place the book back upon the shelf, I am content when it bears the ravages of time and investment.
I know that there are those who appreciate a volume, that after being read reveals it is none the worse for wear, even able to be passed along, resold as “like new.”
I, on the other hand, enjoy a robust engagement, a thorough dialogue with any intellectual partner. The volume therefore should exhibit …. perhaps dog-eared pages. Some marks of food which chronicle the long relationship, during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Coffee stains; certainly, many coffee stains marking contemplative digestion. Maybe even some torn pages, and preferably some foxing, noting a rather extended involvement, one shared with previous contenders. Definitely, my responses, contentions and affirmations will be well represented in the margins and throughout the text; this has not been a passive lecture, nor a one-sided conversation, but a spirited colloquy. The product is a “very worn copy”; Not-For-Sale.
The musky scent of an old tome marks the resilience of a weathered, and tested contender. The smell of new paper and ink emits the boldness to promote a new idea, a new story, or seasoned knowledge.
I do love books, and see them as “the other voice” of a conversation, as well as an educator. They are calm, and they are fury, as they communicate their version of reality.
I appreciate books…
Though, are they not little professors, perhaps even muted shepherds?
Though, are not some little Führers who seek dominance over the mind?
Do they not teach? Do they not lie?
Can they not calm? Can they not rile?
Have they not truth? Have they not propaganda?
How will they sway the hearts of men?
Books can be “good,” and books can be downright “evil.” And they all have an agenda. I will need to be careful; I need to guard my heart. Scripture affirms this:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
There is a battle for the soul, and a battle for the mind. Be on guard! Many books, even those falsely identifying as Christian books, are promoting a false gospel, a Christian mysticism, or a distorted, unbiblical truth.
“So, Book! Before you even rest before my eyes, you have been scrutinized. Who wrote you? Who published you, and when? Who reviewed you? Who endorses you? You had better bring your ‘A’ game if I am going to see you through to the end. If you are found wanting of truth. If we are not on the same page. I will not let you in! If I discern you are rife with lies, you will find a hastened fiery end–to your greatest good.”
Some books (and magazines, newspapers, DVD’s, CD’s, podcasts, and the lot) need to go that way; to be reintroduce to the dust of the Earth. They are vying for your mind.
“But, if I should read you. If I should keep you…” With assurance of a future meeting, and a vague smile, I can entrust this advocate or adversary, friend or foe, to the security… to the company of like-fated companions upon the shelf, with a nod.
“Thanks, and let’s do it again sometime.”
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]