Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Which five books?

I've got too many books. Some of you think there's no such thing, and I once thought that myself. But listen: I'm never going to get them all read; I no longer even want to. And I think it's time for winnowing.

Seeing a multitude of books in boxes before my move reminded me of something that the novelist Flaubert said. He wondered something along these lines: How educated might a person be who knew just five books well?

We've had to read a slew of books in seminary, and part of me thinks that's good. Seminarians need to be exposed to a wide range of thought both old and new. But it's hard not to feel like most of our reading, because there's so much of it to do, remains superficial. Flaubert was onto something. It could be better to read five books well -- if they're the right books -- than to skim dozens.

So I'll put the question to you: What five books should we all read and know well? Sir Francis Bacon said some were to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and a few to be chewed and digested. Which five merit our chewing and digesting?

Don't list the Bible or Shakespeare. Let's assume we've got those already. Don't list Calvin's Institutes or Thomas Aquinas' Summa either. Assume we've got those, too.

From there to here

My road trip to Philadelphia took a good twenty-something hours of driving. That's a lot of hours to think, sing, pray, and admire the passing scenery (cows, trees, mountains, and, in Tennessee, one dead armadillo, supine at the side of the road). Along the way, I listened to nine talks on marriage by Pastor Tim Keller of New York City, two or three lectures on Romans 8 by N.T. Wright, and a couple of favorite mix CDs. Keller's talks are excellent: challenging, convicting, and encouraging. I'll to try to post more about them soon.