Books, books, and more books

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I am a dedicated bibliophile. For the past several years I have asked for books or gift cards in order to buy books for every Christmas and birthday. There is a store near us called Ollie’s which has in rather quick fashion become my favorite store. Why you ask? Because they have a huge book selection and many Christian in orientation. Actually, they have many theological books from reputable authors. They even have many from the Word Biblical Commentary set for around $12 each. Considering they each sell for around $50 a book, that’s pretty good. Needless to say, I peruse their book section about every 2-3 weeks.

I’ve graciously and thankfully inherited this trait from my dad. He has enough books to wrap around the world at least 3 times. Seriously. There are books everywhere my dad goes. Remember Pigpen from the “Peanuts” cartoon? He always had a cloud of dirt surrounding him everywhere he went. My dad is kind of like that except replace the dirt with books. This isn’t a bad thing at all and I”m not saying he is anything like Pigpen in any sense of the term/character. He just loves books and it shows. Someone, a teacher, who found out I was my dad’s son complemented him by saying, “He’s a teacher’s teacher.” How cool is that?

The thing is I don’t think it’s the mere content of books that we are enamored with. I think we love books for books. And by “we” I mean my whole family. Apparently, the bibliophile chromosome made it to all of us kids. I love the way they look on my shelves. The nice arrangements and rows is a nice thing. Perhaps I’m a bit too involved with books, but it’s just my thing, you know? There are many reasons for this (the content, growth, potential for helping others) but those can wait for later.

Surprisingly, there is another Emery in the world who could easily be mistaken for an Emery of the Syracuse chapter. James Emery White is an author, professor, and clergyman. Above all of these, and certainly interspersed throughout them, is his love for books. I’ve copied his some of his text in the remainder of this post. The part I think I like the most is the metaphor he employs between a library of books as an “armory”. As a chef has his knives and a mechanic her wrenches, every minister or academic (hopefully the two blend together) needs his/her tools of the trade: books. Here is his post and the link if you want the rest of it:

Give Me a Book
I am, unashamedly, a book man.
You may have expected me to say a “reading” man, which would also be true. As St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote, “Be assiduous in prayer and reading. In the one you speak to God. In the other God speaks to you.” But for me, it’s not just about reading – it’s about books.  I agree with the monk in Normandy who, in 1170, wrote that “A monastery without a library is like a castle without an armory. Our library is our armory.” This means we should engage in building it, fortifying it, at every opportunity. When I was in graduate school, I recall one of my professors saying that we should have a line-item in our budget for books. That building a good library is one of the most important things we can do in ministry and for impact. I tell my own graduate students the same thing – to invest in books. They are our tools. A mechanic has his set of wrenches; a doctor has his stethoscope; a chef has his cookware. Those of us in ministry, or scholarship (and ideally they are joined at the hip), have our books. When I “require” books for my students, my intent is simple: these are worth not only reading, but owning. Buy them. Build your library. It is your armory.

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