I'm not reading as many books as I used to. This fact is not immediately evident from the stacks on my coffee table, but a careful scrutiny of said stacks would reveal that the same books have been teetering atop each other for too many months.
The culprit is my iPad, a small bookish sized device, which masquerades as a book, but which does not deliver the substance or the nutrition of a book. Instead it spews email, tweets and facebook chatter which, like potato chips or m&m's are momentarily tasty, but lack long term nutritional value.
The difference, the draw, is that unlike authors of most books, I know my facebook friends, my birds of a feather, my non-spam email comrades -- and to some degree, they know me. We are, as they say, connected. The connection, however, is tenuously sustained by social sites. The fact that you post four optimistic quotes or a half dozen cool pictures every day does not add up to even an hour's heart to heart discussion. Too little coin of the realm is exchanged.
Why then, is more and more of my reading time spent going from email, to twitter, to facebook, to the article or video someone posts, to goodness: it's bed time already? Is it because I'm too lazy to put down the iPad and pick up a book? Basic ADD? Even books on my iPad are not getting read. Could it be that having filled up on beer and chips, I'm not hungry for dinner?
And yet, it's not all chatter. In the two hours since since I arose at 4:00 am I have read an interesting article about how Social Networking is replacing Search Engine Optimization. I have heard heard a great speech about governmental red tape by Congressman Mike Kelly, have listened to a North Carolina Bishop encourage us to be crazy Christians and have written four short paragraphs. Going at present rate, the July Newsletter will arrive sometime in September.
"The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Vi suggested we deal with to-read stacks by having July's Literary Party theme be Languishing. The theme didn't languish, rather we decided everyone should read a book that was languishing on their coffee table or bed stand. This was an epic failure for me. I decided to finish BRAVE COMPANIONS by David McCullough. The book holds sixteen short, well written essays about very interesting people and events. I had read the chapter on Harriot Beecher Stowe and a couple others before I loaned the book to Justin. He finished it in a week. I brought it home and Michael read it. Thereafter it languished in various stacks. I took it to family camp and, determined to read it for the Literary Party, I completed the chapter on Remmington, the western artist.
Does anyone else manage to actually read books at Family Camp?
The Friday Literary Party arrived. I figured I'd read almost half the book; I could at least wave it around. This would have been a good idea if I could have found the stupid thing that Friday morning when I dashed out of the house. It turned up three days later on the wrong coffee table. By this time I've forgotten which chapters I've read and which ones I haven't. You could take me out of my misery by offering to buy the book. $4.00.
"All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind." — Abraham Lincoln
Another great book I am not reading is HEALING THE GREATEST HURT by the Linn brothers and Sheila Fabricant. I'm actually about 3/4 through this book that commences with helping people who have lost a loved one. The book ranges through different kinds of prayer-healing including praying for the departed, generational healing (with much borrowed from Kenneth McCall's book), praying for miscarriages and abortions, praying for great sinners and praying for anyone who has been impacted by death.
The Linn brothers, who also wrote DON'T FORGIVE TOO SOON, came to mind when I was getting frustrated with the fact that books abound on the first three years of life, but there is little information on how to deal with the last three years of life -- both your own and someone else's. What do people need as they get ready to cross the great threshold? How can we help them? It turns out we had the Linn brother's book, HEALING THE DYING at the Word Shop. This small book uses the last seven statements of Jesus on the Cross as a way to chart what dying people may need to do. Surely there is more to the journey than merely waiting around to die, more than dealing with basic needs -- although God knows that takes enough time. Both HEALING THE DYING and HEALING THE GREATEST HURT have deep insights to offer on the road thru death to life.
"Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come." -Rabindranath Tagore
Next month's literary party is 20th Century Historical. We spent at least ten minutes trying to figure out what that means. (20th Century Hysterical?) All I can say is that the book has to take place in the 20th Century, but can't be written in the same time frame it's presenting. Unlike this newsletter which is written in so many time frames, you never know where you are. Eternity.
"An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth." -Bonnie Friedman