On “The Urgent Matter of Books”

Believe or not, I have friends. And I also have friends who like to blog. My friend, Abby King, posts regularly over at her blog, Tales of a Sojourner. She is a deep thinker and a theologian-at-heart (can I describe you that way, Abby?). She is also a great musician and worship leader.

So I asked Abby if I could re-post articles from her blog. She kindly agreed. Miss King is currently doing her MA in Hermeneutics from London School of Theology. Thus, I’m thinking she can teach us a thing or two about the things of God. Well, not simply because of an MA, but because of her ministry-serving gifts. Ok, I am heading down a rabbit trail. So read here for more.

I think I might re-post more of her articles in the future as guest posts. But here is the first entry below:

by Abby King

I’ve been mulling over something I read all day, and I should probably mull over it some more before I respond to it, but I’m impatient, and I also get my best inspiration to write late at night, so here we are.

Now, a little disclaimer before we begin. I don’t necessarily agree with, or endorse absolutely everything this writer suggests.  And I could see how her post could be offensive in some ways. BUT. But…

Yuknavitch loves books passionately and believes they can change people, who can change the world. So do I. She loves the real books, you know, “those thingees with covers and pages that you hold in your hands? Smell like paper and trees?” So do I.

This quote kind of summarizes the article:

Books, like all art, breed in us desire. In times of crisis and fear and misrepresentation we need desire, or else we shut down and hide out in our houses, succumbing to infotainment and the ease of an available latte, turning off our brains and emotions. Books breed desire. Even if, as Jeanette Winterson argues, the responsibility to act remains with us…

… And underneath the story of BUY THIS and FEAR THIS and HATE THAT, rising up and punching through the infomercial we call public discourse in a moment of danger is this: read books.

Books are so vital because they remind us that “buy this and fear this and hate that” are only one story, told from only one perspective. There are a lot of other stories that need to be heard, made available, lived. There are good and beautiful stories that remind us of how things could be. There are stories of hope and redemption, where justice and mercy walk together hand in hand, fingers entwined.  There are stories of generosity and self-sacrifice, where love drives out hate and power is perfected in weakness.

These are the stories infused with the Kingdom and the Gospel. They breed in us the desire to see the kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. They tune in our emotions as we grieve over brokenness and lament that things are not as they should be. They switch on our brains to help us realize that we are what we desire, and maybe what we have desired is too shallow to satisfy us. And maybe the cost to other lives to produce what we want to consume is too high to pay.

As we read, we are coaxed out of our individual houses into communities where thinkers and writers and believers and hopers re-envision and re-inspire us to re-imagine our world and re-awaken us to all the glorious possibilities for change that exist.

And yet “the responsibility to act remains with us.” We have to do the hard work of forgiving and loving and acting and serving and being the way we want the world to be.  We have to fight for the poor and the oppressed, the widow and the alien. We have to manage our time, our money, our habits. We don’t just read the story, we are the story. We infuse the stories of the Kingdom so we can live them out and offer an alternative way of being in the world to the dominant discourses of consumerism and violence.

*****

I enclose a link to the article mentioned above in the interests of quoting my source, but… It is not recommended for the faint-hearted, the Republican American, or those offended by bad language.  If you fall into one of these categories, you probably won’t like the whole article, you have been warned!

The Urgent Matter of Books

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