Monday, 10 November 2014

What Would Jesus Do ... With My Books?

Image: Tom Murphy VII via Wikimedia Commons
I've been pondering a lot just lately about the disconnect between the normal, day to day business of my life and the (pretty straightforward) teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. The idea that Jesus might have meant me, as a student of his, to live out the things he did and said might not always be immediately apparent to someone who studied my everyday routines. Which is, of course, troubling, and probably deserves a whole separate post of its own. Maybe tomorrow?

Today I'm thinking about books.

I have a ton of books. It's an occupational hazard experienced by a lot of clergy, as far as I can see. I love books in a general and promiscuous way, so I have a lot of novels and reference books and poetry books and biographies and ... well, you get the idea. But specifically I have just a shedload of religious books. Theological masterpieces. Liturgical texts. Devotional classics. Biblical commentaries. Little collections of prayers and multi-volume Greek dictionaries. Ancient works in translation and contemporary gems. Even one I wrote myself ...*

Since I moved last July they've almost all been sitting in boxes in the garage. Our new house is a lot smaller than the old one, and there's just no room to shelve them all right now. So I pulled out about thirty or so I just couldn't manage without (you know, like John Cassian's Conferences, Hans Urs von Balthasar's Prayer, and the Philokalia - the really essential stuff). And the rest are stuck in those boxes.

Weirdly, I've not missed them much. When they were out on shelves they were like members of my extended family; I tried to have a cull before we moved and I just couldn't let most of them go. But now - well, I'm just not so worried.

Now Jesus is big on simplifying and focusing. Give away. Sell, and give to the poor. Choose between God and Mammon. Realise that wherever your treasure is, there's your heart (not the other way round). Seek the Kingdom, trust God for the rest. Simplicity is a pretty key Gospel theme.

The result is, I'm thinking about giving them away. Or at least selling them. Most of them. Maybe all of them. Twenty plus years of accumulated library.

Any thoughts?

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*Just saying, but my book has a solid five stars on Amazon.com - so it must be pretty good, right? :-)

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