Monday, March 31, 2008

Reading Log - Lewis & The States

Since this blog is largely self-indulgent autobiography anyway, I'm allowing it to take the place, for this entry at least, of my old reading logs. As I mentioned way back in one of my first entries, I've started to maintain reading logs several times over the years. So far, I've maintained this blog longer than all of those efforts put together.

I'm not even considering trying to mention all the magazines, newspapers, online essays, etc., that I read. I'd spend so much time listing them that I'd have to cut back drastically on the actual reading, thereby largely defeating the purpose. One of these days I intend to start talking about what websites I read on a daily basis and make links to them; that'll give a pretty good indication about my online reading anyway.

I'm also not going to point out my daily Bible reading (which I don't always do daily - I often miss a day or two, then catch up). Suffice it to say that I'm following the Bible in a Year schedule from the Our Daily Bread devotionals, published by Radio Bible Class. Each day's devotional, along with the readings for the day, are available by clicking here. I prefer the printed, pocket-sized devotionals, but reading it online will certainly do in a pinch.

Right now, I have three books on the go (counting one that I just finished today). First up, a nice all-in-one edition of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I ordered it from not long ago; the link is to the actual edition I have. I'm reading it as Lewis intended, in a way: by reading it aloud to my son, usually at a rate of a chapter each evening. Tonight we finished chapter 2 of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which I think of as book two).

Earlier today I finished The Arrow Book of States by Margaret Ronan, 1964 edition. It's a very light overview, giving two pages per American state with a small map, a few historical notes, and some trivia on each state. Clearly meant for schoolchildren of its day, that's exactly how I wound up with it. It has the name of one of my uncles (who would have been a preteen in 1964) written on the inside front cover, and my Mom's (who was a couple of years younger) written on the back. It was one of the books I took from my grandparents' house after they died in the late 1990s. The items of any value or use were divided up among the family, and most of the rest was loaded into boxes and trash bags and hauled off to the dump when the house was cleaned out. All I really wanted was one framed picture that belonged to my grandfather - it now hangs in my computer room, just a few feet away from me right now.

I took the books largely because no one else wanted them, and I hate to see books thrown away. Most of the books held no sentimental value to me (my memories of my grandfather revolve more around traipsing through the woods or fishing with him, not sitting around reading), but I still like to take a look over the collection (I still haven't integrated most of their books into my bookshelves) from time to time and pick one out.

I enjoy trivia collections, so although U.S. states aren't a subject that holds a great deal of interest for me, the book was worth reading. If I ever try out for Jeopardy I'll go over it again. Their frequent Americentric categories would definitely be a weak point for me as a contestant.

Finally, I'm on a second pass, this time highlighting, underlining, and otherwise marking up passages, through another C.S. Lewis title, Miracles. I generally read good theology books twice. Once just for the sake of reading, to take in the author's ideas. If the book is good enough, then I make the second pass, highlighter in hand. Lewis' books (at least the nonfiction) always get the second pass (although, truth be told, I haven't read very many of them yet).

My eventual intention (which may wind up languishing forever on that "maybe someday" list that will no doubt be a mile long when my empty shell of a body is laid to rest) is to use this blog in part to record and elaborate on my notes from such books. I intend to use Lewis as a springboard for many of my Sunday school classes in the future, and my notes will probably wind up serving as a curriculum outline of sorts.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the Winnie The Pooh starring vehicle Does It Float (closeup detail of front cover, number 4 in a series). And some of a finger.

1 comment:

HomeSchooler said...

Zirbert said:
"My memories of my grandfather revolve more around traipsing through the woods or fishing with him..."

Really??? Wow, I learn something new everyday! Today's lesson: Zirbert not only has been in the woods, but has participated in recreational forest activities! Does that mean that camping trips might actually be a future possibility?

If you haven't yet, I'd highly recommend reading Lewis' "The Problem of Pain" and "A Grief Observed" consecutively, and if possible, just before or after having read "Lenten Lands" by Douglas Gresham, Lewis' step-son. I did a paper once on the development of Lewis' theodicy based on these books, among other books and articles, and I find myself going back to them time and time again (referring to the Lewis books, whereas the Gresham book is primarily for context).

They are beautiful, bitter reminders that theorizing and theologizing about pain is very different from living it. And the practical application (especially for pastors) is so important: don't give those in the midst of grief theology mistaking it for comfort; they are not the same!