"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?...A book must be like an ice axe to break the frozen sea within us." - Franz Kafka
Here we have a poignant exhortation to read good books. I might not go quite as far as Kafka in discounting the worth of a good "pleasure read," but his point is well taken--books have the potential to change our lives (far more potential than most other media, like TV or the Internet), so choose your books well. Read something that is time-tested and full of wisdom. (And, of course, the best choice of all is the Bible itself, the one book that has changed more lives than any other. It is the book that always wakes us, that always shatters our frozen seas, because it is God himself doing the hammering.) Here are just a few authors who have been "ice axes" for me (in no particular order): C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Thomas a Kempis, Julian of Norwich, Francois Fenelon, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Plato, Oswald Chambers, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just to name a few. There are others, too. My own passions and interests tend towards devotional spirituality and ethics (moral philosophy), which is where most of these authors fall. And while I enjoy studying theology and history and culture and ministry technique, these areas don't seize my attention and captivate my imagination in quite the same way as devotional spirituality and ethics. But whatever your passions are, there are good "ice axe" books out there for you. Seek them out, and start hammering away.
Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.