Day two at Montreat, and I made a trip to the bookstore after my run. I can never get out of there without spending some money (I am what my mother would call “book poor”), and today was no exception. Some of you have asked what I am reading this week. I brought a box of books from my study, and today I purchased the following:
The Stewardship Companion, by David N. Mosser
Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral, by Thomas G. Long
Karl Barth: Theologian of Christian Witness, by Joseph L. Mangina
Theology Today: Reflections on the Bible and Contemporary Life, by Patrick D. Miller
Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, by Eugene H. Peterson
Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent, by Pamela C. Hawkins
While We Wait: Living the Questions of Advent, by Mary Lou Redding
Later this week I plan to go to Asheville and visit the best bookstore in the world (in my opinion anyway), Malaprops, where I hope to buy some good fiction.
This immersion in the world of books causes me some pause, since I have heard the recent rumblings that books will soon go the way of eight-track cassettes, vinyl LP’s, and VCR’s. I know the many ways that an electronic reader like the Kindle will make book reading easier. I know that if I had one of them, I would not have had to haul my bag of books up the hill to sit in the rocker and read to the sound of the stream. I also know Kim expects one for Christmas, and will probably think everything that follows is pure bunk.
I know all that. And it may just be that I’m sentimental or quickly becoming irrelevant, but I like the weight of the book in my hand, and the texture of the paper, and the joy of turning one page after another. I like underlining and dog earring. I like holding my place with a finger while I hunt down a passage. Mostly, though, I like the materiality of the printed page. In a world that is fast becoming digitized, where everything can be reduced to zeros and ones, the book stands as a needed retreat; a corporeal, bulky, heavy reminder that not everything can be reduced to bits on a screen.
Like a flowing stream, a rocking chair, and the experience of the printed word.