It’s a dangerous thing to talk about books with writers, but I was asked the other day if I was a book person or just a writing person. I’ve probably thought longer and harder on that question than the person thought I would! So, here is a post sharing a few of my thoughts on books.
Books were among the most fundamental formation I received as a child. I read vast amounts in a house crowded with books. My first alone time revolved almost exclusively with books, whether walking to the library on the way home from school or reading away from the presence of my older brother and sister.
I read first thing and last thing. I read my way into being the first girl in my class to get a detention. I read through boredom and from interest. I both splurged and paced myself through books. I delighted in both literature & pulp as though they could be friends with me, an under-friended soul. They were very much part of how I understood myself, not only as a hobbyist, but as an intellect, a psyche, a soul.
Still, I am not one to idolize books. It was very real to me that (please don’t judge) people would read through my concerts when I was an aspiring musician. At home there were times I needed to wait until the end of a page or chapter to get the attention I sought. So, let’s concede that these are little things, that I was raised as a well-respected, relatively well-adjusted, and definitely deeply loved child. Still, books aren’t immune from selfishness and impatience. Books can obscure present opportunities, people around you, and the very real world laid out as a panoramic before you.
Books are great, but books aren’t everything. Nor should they be.
After what I would call my most formative years, I read for greater insight. I think more than a book person, I am a thought person. Every literature class I took in college was for psychological perspective (Russian lit), epic experience (the ancients of various locations), or word play (satire!). I delved into the literature of a secular university only to periodically shudder at what I had found.
Returning to my roots meant returning to theology as much as anything else. Still, reading theology was very scary to me. I was terrified that Lutheranism, the stalwart of my principle beliefs, could be wrong, or that the comforts of the Gospel would be dispersed.
Now, it took books to reassure me, and it took books to build me up into a better balanced, more rounded advocate of the Lutheran Confessions. (They are AMAZING!) But the effect of sin upon books is real and many-layered. Studying theology made me more compassionate, and it is heart-breaking to see what words can do for the wrong audience or at the wrong time or from a harmful perspective.
In books, we can see the humility and commitment of a God who reveals Himself through symbols on animal skins, scrolls, parchments, etc. Then, sitting next to it on a shelf, we can see the putrefying trash of human understanding intent on corrupting God’s truth into the devil’s lies with the result of people literally following Satan into hell.
I went to seminary to better serve the church as a theologically-trained mercy worker. (Admittedly, also to help me get published.) I left equipped to throw away heretical books. Because why keep them? Why profit from selling them? Why let them take up shelf room when they can damage souls for whom Christ died?
My view on books? Maybe I could say it this way: libraries are great! I just think both God and the devil delight in their own.
The platonic ideal of books is amazing and astounding. Personally, I might say it’s additional proof of the existence of God, specifically the Word recorded on the pages of the Bible and made flesh in the person Jesus. But I’m a Lutheran more than a book person.
Here’s an idea: let’s have Lutherans write so much that it floods into the devil’s libraries, much to his personal horror. That is the type of book person I want to be.