Bookworms: the introduction
The process of compiling CQOD has led me to
many books and documents that might otherwise have escaped my notice, and
perhaps yours, too. It is one of the peculiar joys of this little ministry
that it draws attention to literature that is in danger of being forgotten,
or was never much noticed in the first place, that nevertheless has the
power to bless the heart, challenge the Christian mind, or feed the soul.
By becoming familiar with the Christian writers
of the past, not just in an academic way, but as brothers and sisters in
Christ, I have been richly blessed by taking their thoughts, understandings
of the Bible, and experiences into my own life and relationship to God.
Though they are now (mostly) departed, they recorded their experience of
the same Lord and Savior I follow, through the same mercy, by the same
sacrifice. It is not for nothing that the Holy Spirit has inhabited millions
of our fellow warriors throughout the history of the Church (Heb. 11:4).
In reading these wonderful works, it has become
clear to me that the "cloud of witnesses" to the faithfulness and mercies
of God has continued to expand since the time of the writer of Hebrews.
Over the last twenty centuries, the Lord has raised up an army of contenders
for the faith. But the swell of anti-God propaganda they strove against
has become a tidal wave in our day.
One objective of popular culture, both in
the time of the early church and today, is to engulf our consciousness
with thoughts that militate against God (James 3:13-18). Masquerading as
wisdom, it has only to occupy our minds for a significant fraction of our
time to achieve its objective, namely, the displacement of wisdom from
above, using our vanity and ambition as a lever.
And whose vanity is immune to that appeal?
Christ's only, for He alone had no vanity.
One vehicle for the combat against popular
culture is the reading of the great Christian writers of the past. Over
the years, I have noticed how my own mind has ocassionally been fortified
against some of the invading evil, and how at times, the right word has
helped me turn away from some worldly attraction. For, little has actually
changed in the passage of time: our hearts are vulnerable to the same appeals,
afflicted with the same blindness, tempted by the same evil thoughts, and
blackened by the same sins as have stained mankind throughout the centuries.
And so, a kinship exists between us, but more than that. There is the very
same Lord, beckoning to us to leave our tangled skeins and follow Him.
The collection of book notes, short essays,
and reports that I have called "Bookworms" serves as my memory for the
experiences of these works. They are not reviews: lacking much of the background
needed, I am not fit to review or critique such scholarly works. But I
can experience them, and record aspects of my experience. If the resulting
essays also serve to inform and interest the reader in the books that inspired
them, I am doubly blessed.
RMA, June, 2000
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