Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reading and Ideas

After coming Home from Blue and Gold last night I tucked into my last bit of school work for the week. It took all night and I didn't get to bed until a quarter of 5 this morning, but I got it done and turned in before the deadline.

Athanasia, Anselm Samuel, and Basil Wenceslas got up at 7 to get ready for church. Our family was cooking for the parish. Thankfully, Athanasia got most of it done before she went to bed last night. I was in no shape to go to church so I stayed home with Basil. I kept him home because there was no way she could manage them both and put the meal together. I really really hoped he would go back to bed for a couple of hours but no way. He was up and when a little boy is up everyone in the house is up. So, I struggled though till my wife came home after church and I went to bed.

After waking many hours later I spent a little time with my family but they were really into watching the movie Because of Winn-Dixie on the the computer. I had read the book and enjoyed it very much. I wasn't very interested in seeing the movie. So, I went to Barnes & Noble and looked around.

When I was in my teens and twenties I used to love reading the journals. Tikkun, Commentary, Oxford American, Policy Review, Foreign Affairs, Liberty, Zyzzyva, First Things, Harvard Business Review. I would disappear into those pages for hours. But tonight, after picking up and leafing through several of them, it dawned on me that I knew what was going to be said between their covers before I even picked them up. It was all very predictable. And now I wonder, is that just part of being forty-one years old? Do I know everything about the world of ideas there is to know?

Now, it seems to me, I have spent enough time in this world. I know what is has to say. Its best ideas are spent. Its words are lacking. How much more I love the words I read as a boy, when I read a chapter of the Bible every day. The Psalms never get old, and though I know many of them by heart they are never predictable. The prophets are always surprising. The Gospels, where I meet Jesus, are always new and exciting. The Lord is good.

1 comment:

Justin said...

A good post. Very thoughtful. I also used to read policy and social journals thinking I would keep myself up to date on current thought and events. I appreciate that there needs to be a forum for ideas. But the world marches on and the essay that Someone, PhD wrote in a March issue fades into obscurity never to be read again until a college student needs a citation five years from now.

What appears to be "analysis" to the consumer is sometimes self promotion by the authors and or at least their attempt at maintaining their place in the caucaphony. A circle of authors can be self-congratulatry and if that is the only circle I've bumped into, then my entire outlook can become skewed. Writing that reinforces a group's exclusivity or that draws its power from pointing out others' inadequacy is simply ego-driven. Even some Orthodox sources do this.

I have spent enough time in this world. I know what is has to say. Its best ideas are spent.

True words. Ideas and memories are distilled over the years; those things that remain as inspiration to me are the works that have kept me up until 2am and have transported me to other places, such as Narnia, Treasure Island, Poe, Cricket Magazine, etc. In my adult years, journals and most media in general are too transient.

Last year it was a guy who only writes at a high school level whose words cut me deep and left me thinking for days what I need to do in order to be more like Christ. I've never forgotten that, and that is why i appreciate people who write about their daily struggles. There is a blogger who frequently misspells words, which is a pet peeve of mine (though I am guilty). He once wrote a very long post on his toddler's experience with cancer. It was heart wrenching. He doesn't blog often but when he does I read attentively. There is a good chance I'll find spiritual gold there.