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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Books, People, and Addictive Stimulants

I enjoy the chain bookstores--which is where I am right now. In addition to the legal addictive stimulant that tries its best to stain my teeth and reveal my secret obsession with it, I enjoy sitting and watching people. Consider the older gentleman to my left who looks like the father of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; or how about the girl who keeps leaving all of her belongings and walking away for several minutes at a time--doesn't she realize it's the 21st century? The gentleman directly in front of me is the image of the board of trustees chairman at my former college, I expect that he's a philosopher--at least he fits the bill.

I also enjoy chain bookstores for its ability to shock me back into reality. I grow tired of fighting battle after battle in the culture war. I can't fathom how people do it for a career! But, whenever I think the world is good enough and that I can just take a back seat, I just visit my local bookstore and peruse through some of the garbage that people write--and buy!

Hidden somewhere in this store containing roughly 300,000 titles lies an obscure shelf in a backroom upon which rests the ancients who are truly worth reading, such as Dante, Socrates, or Barth, collecting dust. Instead of being encouraged to read enduring works of literary art, we are overwhelmed with big signs marketing the contemporary issues made irrelevant with the passage of a few shorts years.

I don't suggest that anyone change what they are reading for enjoyment as I myself have recently read such frivilous works as David Frum's "The Right Man". In doing so, however, I recognize that it lacks the enduring value; it's no more than a neat story.

What I do suggest is balance between literature which fades and that which endures. Consider a few fading titles:

"American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" -- The suggestion that somehow a 'god' is sitting on the throne of America is both a gross misunderstanding of what a theocracy is and an overstated hyperbolic suggestion of reality (admittedly, this is only one aspect of the book). The author is a present-tense historicist; meaning he writes as though the current reality is significant history before 'history' judges it as worthy. This, of course, is an exceedingly difficult thing to do and most who do it fail. How credible do you view a library text published in 1980 with the words, "modern", "emerging", or "latest" in the titles? This text will probably come and go along with the rest with little or no damage done to the conscience of America.

"The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" Flipping through this text, I find a text possibly much more damaging to the conscience of the nation. Of course, I have strong disagreements with those of other religions of atheistic perspectives, however, the logical conclusion of the author's expressed values is an anarchy at best, or worse, a relativism creating a valueless, lazy, and apathetic class of people lacking even a pragmatic ethic.

To be sure however, I am not only critical of anti-faith books. The shelves are full of fuzzy, feel-good me-ology that lacks depth and insight. I am even more critical of them because the truth runs in them like a vein of gold through a mountainside, but you have dig through all of the refuse to reach it.

Then I visit the magazine section--geesh! With life changing so quickly, much of it is irrelevant even as it is published. The only thing that remains is special interest or racy magazines.

I estimate that less that 10% of the books here would add enduring value to a reader's life. Most of it is trash written by authors who aim to make the top-seller list and reap the rewards of our great capitalistic system. The remaining claim to represent the truth accurately and are important only as the exchange of ideas is important, but remains to be passing away. Which makes me ask myself, what endures? What endures? Interesting.

It also gives rise to another question: I wonder who may be blogging about me?

Thoughtful Readers Speak:
Would you ever try and prevent books that criticize Christianity from being published or sold? Would you ever try and prevent anybody from reading books that criticize Christianity?

I thought you didn't like elitists, yet here you are being a literary snob.
no, no, and huh?
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RIGHTFAITH: Where everything favors the stewardship of patrimony. All content is believed to be correct but may be amended based upon new information. The content of this page may be republished with proper citation without the expressed consent of the author. This site is not, in any manner whatsoever, associated with the religious philosophism from the Indian penninsula. All comments or emails to the author become the property of the author and may be published or deleted without notice or reason provided. Copyrighted 2005.

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