Of libraries and libel and little books and lots of books
Slowly but surely, the OMG office is coming together.
It has been a work in progress, truly.
But we have overcome four coats of new paint, book shelves that (we discovered after sanding, nailing moulding, priming, and painting them) needed to become book cases (thanks, Mom and Dad), two computer meltdowns, two ER visits (unrelated to OMG), one hospital stay for a son, six combined sick days for two children, blizzards, weather precluding a scheduled move, two cancelled days of school due to bone-freezing weather, and a six-day public school break.
As Rosie (Katherine Hepburn) said to Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) after he valiantly tried to dissuade her from continuing their treacherous river journey in The African Queen, “Nevertheless!”
Now, the desk is in, the table is in, the chairs are in, the art is (mostly) in, the printer is in, and most importantly the books are in.
It is “books” that brings me to the word of the day.
In my recently unpacked book collection, I stumbled upon a slim little pamphlet entitled “Word Ancestry: Interesting Stories of the Origins of English Words.” It was published by Miami University in Ohio by the American Classical League in 1985.
I find that I’m carrying the thing around in my purse.
Who knows when a person has a spare five minutes to learn the origins of a new word?
Thanks to this tiny tome, I learned that the word ‘library’ comes from the Latin word liber which (who knew) doubles not only for the word ‘book’ but also ‘bark,’ as in that of a tree. Odd, at first, until it dawns on a person that a book had to be written on something, and as it turns out, the bark of particular trees made for fantastic book material.
Not only that, but another ancient Latin word stems from the same root. Libellus means ‘little book,’ and became known as a derogatory publication spreading, you got it, libel.
Our word ‘Bible’ comes from the Greek word ta biblia which means, in effect, little book. So the bible is itself a library of little books.
I’m a systematic theologian. There are lots of theologians, but my schtick is audacious. It is to try and think systematically about God, to find some sort of system, some sort of consistent ordering, to thoughts about this God who has something to do with everything.
And if one says that God has something to do with everything, then I have always maintained that there is no part of the library that disinterests me.
O.K. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. I once came accidentally across an entire dissertation on the timing of street lights (street crossing, theology of the cross, hence the confusion). I confess to letting a yawn slip by on that one.
The point that I love libraries and all the different topics they contain was brought home by my own library that I unpacked and placed on the walls. Of course I have books on matters religious (the history of the Bible, biblical commentary, church history, theological trends, theologians, and so forth) but also on government, politics, psychology, addiction, science, secular ethics, economics, ecology, literature, and so on. Even better, my mentor Don Luck gave me his theological library, and now I have an enormous section on Buddhism and an even better section on Paul Tillich and psychology and U.S. politics.
I’m so tempted to order new books until I look at the fantastic array about me in my new study, and think “Yes, but do you understand basic physics yet [no] or know enough about the Gilgamesh Epic [no]?”
I think that if you’re interested in God, you can’t help but be a bit interested in everything.
Please consider yourself invited to take stock of my library and wonder about God and……..
What interests you?