"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

my own copy

People recommend or offer to loan me books all the time, books that I "simply must read". (Also videos, newsletters and CDs.) I try to be honest in my response. I always have an ever-changing pile of books of my own, as yet unread. Plus school books. Books for work. Books on my Amazon wishlist. I rarely borrow a recommended book, because no matter my intentions, the odds of me actually reading it are not good. If it truly sounds like a must-read, I add it to my Amazon wishlist. If after a year or two, it's still sitting on the wishlist ... I delete it. If I haven't bought it by that time, I'm not gonna.

How's that for honesty? Also, since I'm being honest here, sometimes I eat chips for supper. Or popcorn.

Recently, someone highly recommended "The Pastor" by Eugene Peterson to me. It is his personal memoir. Eugene Peterson is, of course, the dude who translated The Message version of the Bible. Just from knowing that, I suspect this is a man with imagination and courage and passion. (I know some of you don't like The Message. That's OK.)

The way my friend described it caught my attention. He said he would leave it in the office for a week or two if either my co-pastor or I wanted to read it, no pressure. EXCEPT ... this is a person who highly values his books in that he doesn't fold pages, or highlight, or scribble notes, ever. He doesn't even write his own name in the book. He likes his books to stay in pristine condition. I, on the other hand, am a person who highly values my books in that I read them while eating (thus risking food splatter), while lying in bed (thus risking falling asleep on a bent page), and if it's a good book, I highlight the living daylights out of it. I like my books to evolve to well-loved condition, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

So there's a little bit of pressure. I'm rather terrified to touch his book at all.

I took it home on several different days. Didn't read it. Brought it back. Finally started it at work Thursday (while carefully eating soup), and continued reading a bit of it at home Friday (while carefully eating cereal).

I'm going to return it to him. It's too good. I'm only on page 40, and my brain is shrieking in frustration as one line after another demands highlighting and scribbling for later consideration and conversation. There is no way that I can return this book to him unmarked if I don't stop reading it RIGHT NOW.

Plus I want my own copy.

It's a rare book that bypasses all the others in line, and makes it to the top of my pile. This one has done it, unless it takes a dive at page 41 and continues downhill from there.

I will leave you with a quote, and then I'm closing it up, wrapping it in cheesecloth, and gently transporting it back to the office. The context of this quote is Peterson's assertion that he learned what a congregation should be from working in his dad's butcher shop, where everyone - the respectable, the odd and the downright unwelcome - everyone - was treated with respect.

"Congregation is composed of people, who, upon entering a church,
leave behind what people on the street name or call them.
A church can never be reduced to a place where goods and services are exchanged.
It must never be a place where a person is labeled.
It can never be a place where gossip is perpetuated.
Before anything else, it is a place where a person is named and greeted,
whether implicitly or explicitly, in Jesus's name.
A place where dignity is conferred."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always believed that church should never be a place where people should never be a place where people have to deal with the same crap they have to deal with the other six days or so of the week. I guess I'm an biblical idealist because that's certainly not what I see or have experienced in all the chirches I have attended. Although people are indeed saved, they still have to deal with, and put to death, the fallen nature on a daily basis.

Bob said...

I have noticed that book in the library's e-book section for awhile now but its always out on loan.
I will have to go into the website today & reserve a copy.

One drawback about e-books is that you can't highlight sections or make notes in them either :)

Patti said...

I was wondering about that.

If I got an e-reader, I'd definitely want one I can highlight on, because I'd use it for school stuff.

Is there such a thing in existence? Is that possible?

Patti said...

Hey ... how can an e-book be "out"?

I didn't think there'd be a waiting list for that.

Anonymous said...

With the Kindle you can highlight, type notes (it has it's own little keyboard on it), and even share those notes on Twitter or Facebook if you were so inclined. You can also dog-ear pages! Notes/highlighted excerpts can be exported into a document on your computer (.rtf? .doc? I can't remember) to print out ... handy for taking notes and studying journal articles for school. The Kindle imports PDF documents, which has saved many trees over the years as I no longer print the vast amounts of assigned school reading.
Haven't tried the other e-readers... I'm happy enough with my Kindle :)
~Steph
(I've been following your blog since last summer in 2P06 - thanks for sharing! This blog is one of my favourite tools for procrastination!)

Patti said...

Steph!!! (pause to do a frantic mental review of any school-related blog posts I may have written over the last year or so, having just discovered that one of my profs reads my blog)

*ahem*

It's awfully nice to hear that you've been here all along. :) What a lovely surprise! And THANK YOU for the Kindle info - that's what I was wondering. I have a birthday coming up ... and a husband who wants to know what I want ... :)

Bob said...

The e-books from the library work much the same as regular books.
The library has a certain number of each book available (usually 1 or 2) & they can only loan out the number of copies they have purchsed from the publisher.

You download the book to your reader for a set time period (usually 2 weeks) after that time they disappear from your reader.


The Hamilton library will let you have 10 e-books out at any given time.

You can add a book to your wishlist if it is already booked out & the library will notify you when it is available to download.
I have The Pastor on my list now.

The Kindle sounds more useful than my Sony reader but Christine would be able to tell you more of its options than I would :)

Guinwalla said...

Sounds good!!

Anonymous said...

LOL - Patti, you make me laugh! Must say, the "polygnomials" blog was my favourite... and though I hate to admit it, I screwed up: it was supposed to be polygons, not polynomials. Oh well - the point was the same. Plus, I like the idea of gnomes :)
Hope you're doing well - and keep up the blog! You seriously should write a book!
~Steph

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I hope I can download an electronic copy onto my (yet to be purchased) Blaberry Playbook. Maybe iTunes has it.

GeoZim said...

It sounds like your friend has a great taste in books.