Bibliolatry

"Another way to discern your heart's true love is to look at how you spend your money. Jesus said, 'Where your treasure is, there is your heart also' (Matthew 6:21). Your money flows most effortlessly towards your heart's greatest love. In fact, the mark of an idol is that you spend too much money on it, and you must try to exercise self-control constantly."

--Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope that Matters (New York: Dutton, 2009).

I could pretend that I don't know the answer to this one, but I do. It's books.

I am addicted to books. I spend my life serving books. Buying books, buying shelves for books, rearranging books, looking for more books, reading books. No matter how much they cost, no matter whether I've read the books that I already have, I can always justify to myself buying yet another book. Even when I am trying to budget for something else, a book somehow doesn't count in my calculations. Particularly, now, when I can buy books through Kindle and read them on my iPad. Which itself is a book.

More to the point, I believe in books. I believe that if I read enough books--all the "right" books--I will be saved. Not saved in the way that people mean when they talk about reading the Bible. Saved in the sense that books themselves have the power to redeem me from my ignorance and enable me to write a brilliant book myself. Maybe even the most brilliant book ever written. But before I can do that, I need to read another book.

Reading always feels more important than almost anything else I do. It is also the easiest thing to want to do. Before taking care of myself. Before spending time with my family and friends. If I am involved in a book and my husband comes in, it is almost impossible to get me to stop reading. I never feel the need to justify reading a book. It's never just recreation, it always has a higher purpose, even when it's a novel. Even more so when it is something for my research. Most of all when it is a "self-help" book that I am convinced must have the answer if only I can read it quickly enough.

Books promise power and influence, books promise approval and appreciation, books promise emotional and even physical comfort, books promise security and control. Power, because reading them gives me the knowledge and information that I need in order to be who I am (a professor). Approval, because having read them, I am able to talk about what I learned. Comfort, because without what is in them, I am constantly threatened with exposure as a fraud. Security, because the more books I read, the more control I have over my life. Or so they promise.

"In ancient times," Keller comments, "the deities were bloodthirsty and hard to appease. They still are."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fsa2ePqeJM

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh, I had better get started! No, wait, I need to work on my photo pose....

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Security, because the more books I read, the more control I have over my life."

    Ha ha! That's where you're wrong, FB! Books don't promise security, they promise the exact opposite of security. Within their pages you can escape from the strictures you've imposed on your life (as you long to do elsewhere). Books are risky--they put you face to face with dangerous strangers who just may seduce you (either slowly and subtly, or even more fun, all at once by way of a sudden ephipany!) Consider what you best like to read--it ain't the safe stuff, it's the stuff that promises to sweep you away. My advice: let it!

    ReplyDelete

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