I’m currently reading “When I was a Child, I Read Books” by Marilynne Robinson. Fantastic writing that pulls you in and challenges your soul to truly think, to digest, to come to a personal rendering of the ideas put forth through her use of words.
In contrast, I completed a systematic theology text this week, one that had excellent reviews, but one that pushed my mind further and further to the cliff of unbelief and doubt with each chapter.
So I’m trying to delineate between the two books and their influence on my mind and soul.
I think the reason that I found the systematic theology book so disconcerting is that much attention was spent to theories that debunk doctrine, that I had a hard time finding the nuggets of truth and doctrine embedded in its wordy paragraphs. And as my mind continued to think and think and ponder my way through the chapters, my soul became more and more goofed up. I should have stopped reading it, but there were things in there that I had never learned before and so I kept pushing through–arguments and such that I felt were important to know. But, in all, I would have to say that, for me, my time would have been spent better reading Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot (which is on my summer reading list)
Right now I am reading Marilynne Robinson’s newest collection of essays, and I must say that it is balm to my soul that had been somewhat rendered by my previous reading selection. Robinson’s unconventional use of language, and her fearlessness of jumping into the fray of Calvinism, of austerity, of liberality (in the meaning of generosity) and the loneliness of the West all cause me to think for myself, to consider the world as a global community. The title of her collection of essays is “When I was a Child I Read Books”. She grew up in Idaho, I grew up in Iowa, she now teaches in Iowa. I feel a certain affinity toward her for these things, mostly because she lost herself in big, old books as a child with enormous words. Me too.
I love books, all books. The gift of reading is not something to treat lightly.