February 25, 2010
The topic is compulsive. Last August I did a blog on “I Read It.” There I confessed that I am a “completist.”
This morning Joe Carter, at the First Thoughts blog at First Things , drew my attention to two pieces in the Guardian.
Read it all. Or however much you are wired to read.
February 17, 2010
Libraries Up in Smoke!
Every reader of this blog must take a look at Ben Myers’s “Twelve theses on libraries and librarians.” It’s marvelous!
But as I was soaking it in, I started to think about what ebooks are going to do to this great cultural institution. Then my eyes wandered to a postcard above my desk that replicates the time-worn declaration that readers in Oxford’s Bodleian Library must promise to obey:
Is it just happenstance that the word kindle appears here? I’ve wondered where Amazon got the name for its ebook reader, Kindle. Was it here? Is Amazon’s subversion of libraries this cynical?
The Bodleian must update its oath and not allow any Kindle (or like devices) within its hallowed walls! It is a digital incendiary device! Surely if any fire or flame has ever threatened to reduce the library as an institution to ashes, it is the Kindle!
Ash Wednesday, 2010
February 15, 2010
But Does He Practice What He Writes?
Publishers and readers sometimes fret over whether authors practice what they teach or preach. In reading James Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, his account of a 1773 trip with Samuel Johnson to the Hebrides of Scotland, I came across a passage in which Johnson addresses this topic.
One evening at supper, Johnson and Boswell and their host fell to discussing books and their authors and the potential lack of congruence between an author’s life and an author’s book:Continue reading "But Does He Practice What He Writes?"
Posted by Dan Reid at 12:41 PM
February 12, 2010
Good Text, Bad Analogy
Not long ago I heard a sermon series by a pastor of a tall-steeple downtown church. It was a series that took us through a book of the Bible. Throughout the series the pastor used an analogy based on one of his favorite sports, one that is outside the experience of most people. That in itself was not so deadly. But for the life of me, I could not see a consistent or compelling connection between this sport and the biblical book. The message of the biblical book seemed obfuscated rather than illuminated.
My editorial mind was so distracted by this fact, that I had difficulty focusing on listening. I also wanted to shout out, “The text itself is far more interesting than your analogy is allowing for!” (Rather like what I felt when watching a production of “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” shortly after studying and teaching the narrative intricacies of the fascinating biblical story.) “Your analogy is in fact constricting it!” It would have been cruel to point this out, though I wondered how many of my fellow worshipers were feeling the same disconnect. My wife was, I know.
And yet.Continue reading "Good Text, Bad Analogy"
February 9, 2010
There, Amid Volumes Open Lying Round
In her study of the sixteenth-century scholar and publisher Robert Estienne (also known as Stephanus), Elizabeth Armstrong cites (and translates) a pseudo-Horatian poem written by John Dorat in 1538. The poem is based on the scholar Junius Rabirius’s account of his visit to Estienne’s printing establishment in the interest of getting his books published. While our technology has changed, there is much that remains the same:Continue reading "There, Amid Volumes Open Lying Round"
Posted by Dan Reid at 11:38 AM
February 5, 2010
Donald J. Wiseman (1918-2010)
On February 2 Donald J. Wiseman, editor of IVP’s Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series and New Bible Dictionary, died. An email notice from Tyndale House (Cambridge, U.K.) included the following piece by Alan Millard and some further information about his remarkable experiences during World War 2.Continue reading "Donald J. Wiseman (1918-2010)"
Posted by Dan Reid at 2:44 PM
February 2, 2010
Moments of Speechlessness
Lately I’ve been experiencing moments of speechlessness. Over the years it’s been a recurring condition for me.
It’s triggered by comments—sometimes from church folk, no less—who mention that, of course, we now know that there were many Gospels—such as the Gospel of Thomas—which were just as early as, if not earlier than, the four Gospels but didn’t make it into the New Testament. Or that the early church soon exchanged following Jesus for beliefs about Christ. Or that the Sermon on the Mount was forsaken for a catechism or a confession. Or that Constantine held absolute sway over the bishops at Nicea and shaped its creed for political ends. And that the shape of our New Testament is the result of one ecclesiastical party suppressing and winning over lesser parties (with Constantine a key player again). And all this was reinforced by the heavy-handed measures of the church during the Middle Ages. And so forth.Continue reading "Moments of Speechlessness"