Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Palliative

     I know my weaknesses, some of them.  Yesterday I mentioned C.S. Lewis and his advice concerning old books and by that standard, and many other standards as well, my reading program last year fell short.  I read too many modern books, or even new books about the old books, which Lewis would condemn as well.
"Every age has its own outlook.  It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes.  We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.  All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it."
     I am compelled not by a desire to know theology, but to know Christ.  I want to know the Christ who has ruled the centuries.  And I'm quick to acknowledge that the twentieth century American church may not know Him quite as well as we think we do.  I may not know Him quite as well as I think I do.  This year I want to learn Christ from men who loved Him in the past, whose work has survived the ages.
     "Hope is not a course of action," Donovan Campbell says in Joker One.  My plan?  I found this list (I don't know anything else about this site, but I know the Puritans so I think I'm okay) and decided to try reading a book a month all year.  I checked around but found the links through that site to the Westminster Seminary book store actually had the best prices and $1 shipping for an order of $35.  I ordered six books.  I'll be reading for a while, only I'm changing the order and starting with The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  My mom told me it's the most helpful book she's ever read.  That swayed me.
     If, and it is iffy, I finish those I think I'll throw in Thomas a Kempis The Imitation of Christ and Augustine's Confessions to finish out the year with the Puritans.  We'll see.
"The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books."

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