Gluttony and the Christian Librarian

For the two of you who read this (Hi Mom!), just a forewarning: This post is going to get religiousy and honestly a bit rambling. i’m out of practice with this whole writing thing. Lent has begun and i’m entering a period of self and communal reflection. If my poor writing is too painful to endure, try coming back in a couple weeks.

The first law of library science is ‘Books are for Use’. While preparing for the needs of  posterity is a great and worthy endeavor, it is not the be all and end all of librarianship. Instead of preserving for use, we should use to preserve. Only in the using of books and information can that information be truly saved for the next generation.

I find myself amassed with a large personal collection of books (last count had me in the vicinity of 4,020s). Calculating how many books one can read in a lifetime is a popular endeavor. (From the Telegraph Blog) Certainly I don’t intend to read this many books in a life time, even if I find a few golden years of retirement. I fool myself into believing I am saving them for posterity, but truth be told I am a glutton for the written word.

Gluttony isn’t merely mass consumption. Its mass consumption without production. Here I fall short, even with the handy title of “librarian”. I have yet to truly take all that I have read and do something worthy with it. A good third of my collection is religious in nature. This stings in particular. While I have somewhat above average knowledge of religion, and access to even greater through my books and personal relations, I haven’t done squat with it. I have horded it. I see an ivory tower book on Barth’s understanding of the Trinity and I lap it up. But what do I do with it? It turns to fat, clogging my heart, making me slow to respond to opportunities to share the gospel (I even shudder at the thought) that present themselves around me.

One of the things I will be attempting to do this Lenten season is wake up at four to start my day. With a nod to the rather obsessive founder of my denomination, I will try to order my life to pursue a personal and communal holiness which I have neglected this last year. It will be difficult and I will be rather grumpy for a good week and a half, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. And worth it not in the sense that ‘i’ll be a better person’ but rather ‘i’ll be a better member of my community.’ I won’t be so selfish with my knowledge, my books, my time. During this time I hope to not only read and pray but to stand up when i’m done and do something in this world. Whether it be to serve as a religious reference librarian on second life, or get to work early and and spend my breakfast time with some of our transient citizens, I need to turn my faith into works because though I am dead, there will be a time all of us are risen.

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