Thursday, March 11, 2021

Too many books?

As I survey my office, I fear my wife may be right.  I have too many books.  But when a parishioner brought in one more -- a picture book of abandoned church buildings -- I could not resist.  There is always room for one more.  Right?

But there might be a way that both my wife and this parishioner are correct.  There is always room for more books but books may not be what will revive the Church.  Sadly, we have more books -- good and faithful books that reflect the orthodox and catholic faith -- now than ever before.  We also have more crap that passes for good books -- including those churned out by pastors who take no salaries but who charge the faithful $39.95 for their latest testament to their wisdom, intelligence, and good looks.  Books are great for the faithful.  Perhaps, they are not the means to address the world with the faith.

Perhaps those who suggest that now is the time for urgent and faithful witness and deep and profound prayer are correct.  We have too many ideas out there and way too many ideas that presume to know what Christianity is but are wrong.  It is no wonder why the world is confused.  Who can blame them?  After all, on the same book shelf in the bookstores across America live side by side the tome's from the pen of Joel Osteen and Anthony Esolen, Rick Warren and Gene Edward Vieth.  And those are contemporary authors.  Imagine the contrasts if we go back in time?

I am eternally grateful for the output of Concordia Publishing House and for the good efforts of people like Paul McCain (may he rest in peace).  There are more good and solid book options available on all kinds of topics than any Lutheran has every had.  But the publishing of so many good books has not exactly lit a fire under our church body.  Indeed, as important as those books are to our instruction and knowledge, the world cries out for people of conviction and depth who witness not by strategy or program but as folks who cannot but give account of the hope in them to any and all who inquire.  Instead of books that gather dust on shelves, maybe it is time for more of our folks to address the world and the cause of the Gospel on bended knee in prayer and devotion.

We have more information at our fingertips than ever before but it is not sharpening the edge of our witness and it is not compelling us to pray more urgently and earnestly than ever before.  The cause of the world around us compels us to faithful witness even in the face of persecution and the fear of rejection and it drives us to our knees in prayer.  Until that happens, the books are not benefiting us or the cause of Christ as much as they could or should.

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