Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

12 March 2013

What I am not reading, what I AM reading instead and what I WILL be reading

HT: Jean for echoes of her blog in the title of this post.

So the big read for 2013 was going to be Communion with God by John Owen.  I've made a start.  I'm about a quarter of the way through.  And I have to say that so far it isn't grabbing me.  It's not the language.  I think I have developed at least a little fitness for books like this with Calvin's Institutes (I got 17 chapters into that before my husband decided he would like to read it as well and suddenly that volume wasn't so readily accessible...), plenty of Octavius Winslow and even happily making my way  through Knowing God last year.  This book IS good.  Of course it is.  But I'm not captivated.  It may be that I am a bit distracted with some unanticpated busy-ness on top of the beginning-of-the-year start-up stuff (and starting up has been a somewhat protracted process this year for some reason.)  It may be too soon after the summer holidays and I'm just not ready to knuckle down into books like this as yet.  It may be that it has been too hot.  (It does seem like a book to read in cold weather for some reason.)  So I have put it aside for now.   And will try again in the winter months.  It might work better when I am sitting by the heater or under a blanket with a warm cup of tea. 

So instead I picked up my newest addition - For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication by John O'Connell.  A slim volume.  Starts like this...

The nib touches the paper.  And instinctively I follow the old formula: address in the top right-hand corner; date just underneath it on the left hand side.  My writing looks weird.  I hand-write so infrequently these days that I've developed a graphic stammer - my brain's way of registering its impatience and bemusement.
What are you doing?  Send a sodding email. I haven't got all night.

This is one gorgeous book.  Lovely to look at.  Lovely to hold.  Lovely to read.  O'Connell appreciates the ease and efficiency of email but has rediscovered the joy and wonder of writing and receiving letters - and this book tells the story of his rediscovery.  Along the way there is a history of letters, lots of wonderful examples and snippets of really good letters, the purpose of letters and moments of priceless, dry humour in amongst beautiful, wistful ponderings.  I'm only half way through it - and I'm taking it very slowly because I can't bear the thought that I will reach the end of it soon.

And it seems that as last year was the year of J.I. Packer, this year may be the year of Jerry Bridges.

I'd been thinking late last year that the time has come to read Respectable Sins.  This book was doing the rounds of the blogs a couple of years ago, with warm acclaim, but I DID NOT WANT TO READ IT.  (Yes...mmmm....)  But now I do.  Now it is time to hold the mirror up a while. 

And then in January something happened, something of absolutely no consequence whatsoever involving a rat in our roof space, and it sent me off on a trail of thinking and praying and coming to the conclusion that I should maybe find a book about trusting God.  (And Communion with God wasn't quite fitting the bill.)  But what to read?  All the while as I have been thinking along these lines Ali has been quietly blogging about and commending a book called Trusting God.  By Jerry Bridges.

So amongst about five other books sitting on my bedside table, I think these will be next.

Here's one more quote from For the Love of Letters.

Letter writing is more enjoyable if you use proper paper.

So true.


Anonymous said...

Hi Meredith

The Girltalk blog yesterday posted a blog post about the sermon Jerry Bridges preached at their church last Sunday on trusting God. The post includes a link to the sermon.

It might be good to listen to while you are reading his book on this.


Deb said...

Not surprised at all that you are reading and enjoying a book about letter writing! :)

Did you see this sermon link? Jerry Bridges on Trusting God. As long as it doesn't spoil the book for you!

Meredith said...

Thanks Linda and Deb. I didn't see that one so thank you. I am looking forward to having a listen.

Jean said...

:D So that's the echo you meant?

Not surprised you got bogged down in John Owen, that's the nature of the man. And to think I read all 12 thick volumes of his works... ;)

Though that is a brilliant book - if you ever get through it. Wouldn't worry if you don't though. Read Richard Baxter or Richard Sibbes instead! :)

Meredith said...

Nah was more that I snitched the "What I'm Reading" title that you use. Thought I ought to give you due credit. :-)

That is hard core commitment - reading through all 12 volumes. I probably won't sign up for that one. But I do want to persevere with him. So I will pick him again in a while and press on.

What would you recommend for Baxter and Sibbes? In fact, why don't you write us post on a beginner's guide to the puritans and set us out a (ten year) reading project. Your best five puritan titles or the like. :-)