Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Good Book Is A Joy Forever

Hello fellow crazies,

I love books--books of all kinds, all sizes. I especially love old books--the way they feel, the way they smell. OK, you who know me well know that I lied about that last part. I have no sense of smell anymore. I got electrocuted back in 1981 and it burned out my olfactory nerve so that now I can't smell or taste anything. But I used to love the smell of old books, and that's the truth.

Those who know me well also know that I'm eclectic in my reading tastes. I can spend hours in a used book store, going where my curiosity leads me. I recently came across a quotation that I liked from an odd source, because it's one that sums up both my book-reading and book-lending experience. The quote is from an old American magazine called Punchinello (Vol. 1, Number 2, April 9, 1870). Punchinello was the American spinoff of Punch magazine, a British weekly of humor and satire. Punchinello was published in New York City from April-December of 1870. All 39 issues can be found online at

Books are the best of friends. They are honest. They say what they feel, and feel what they say. Like other blessings, too, they often take to wings and fly; and it proves to be a fly that never returns. A good book is a joy forever. The only sad thing about it is, that it keeps lent all the time--not so much piously as profanely. Am I my brother's keeper? No. But my brother is quite too often a keeper of mine--of mine own choice authors. The best of friends are, of course--like the best of steaks--rather rare. Like honest men they count only one in ten thousand--an extremely small per cent in a commercial point of view. Books--what should we do without them? What may we not do with them, if it were not for the season of Lent?”

Looking around, one might conclude that books are going the way of the dinosaurs--becoming extinct, replaced by a more powerful rival. But I don't think that is going to happen. Audio books, online books, movies, IPods--none of these can hold a candle to the feel of a good book in your hand.

And speaking of good books... My friend, Herschel McGraw gave me a book for Christmas--What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza, the same bestselling author who wrote What's So Great About America and many other books. D'Souza is a former White House domestic policy analyst who now teaches at Stanford.

This is an amazingly well written book and one that is hard to put down. In it the author takes on the Darwinists, the secularists, the humanists, the atheists, and any other -ists who happen to show up at the party. He masterfully shoots down the notion that religion is on the decline and that atheism is on the rise, pointing out that famous atheists like Daniel Dennett, E.O. Wilson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins have merely become more vocal out of growing frustration at seeing that Darwinism and the other -isms previously mentioned hold no answers for any thinking person willing to look at the evidence he lays on the table.

This book is a beautifully written apologetic for biblical Christianity, one that can confidently be put into the hands of thinking Christians wherever they might be in the spectrum, or non-believing "seekers" willing to be stretched and challenged by the evidence. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, a classic of Christian apologetics.

By the way, that word "apologetics" doesn't have anything to do with apologizing for being a Christian (though in my opinion there are a lot of so-called Christians who need to apologize to God and to the watching world for their lack of commitment to Christ, their selfish life-styles, and their cowardly faith, but that's another story altogether). The word apologetics comes to us from the Greek word apologia, which literally means "to speak off." It is used of a verbal defense, speaking off the charges, explaining one's involvement or position. It is the word we find in I Peter 3:15, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (i.e. an apologia) to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

We live in an age when, as it was stated years ago by Dr. Vance Havner, that wise old Southern Baptist preacher, "There are very few Christians in America shaken by their faith, but many who are shaky about it." I couldn't agree more. If you want to read something that will add some chest hairs to your faith and make you proud to be a Christian in 2008, check out D'Souza.

Crazy about good books,

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