Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reading Boreham

I’ve discovered the greatest irony of all time: withdrawn books from a library. To me, this makes no sense, withdrawing books from a library, especially old books. Yes, I know: libraries are not exhaustive repositories, but dispensers of circulated material; but, if books are withdrawn (even the old ones), how can they be circulated? Of course, the rationale is that if they are not circulating, they are taking up shelf space . . . which really speaks more about the libraries than the readers, who are both losing their sense of wonder in literary discovery. When I go to the library, I try to check what’s on sale . . . usually they are withdrawn books.

A few years ago a missionary and academic giant went to be with the Lord. At the request of his wife, his library was left mostly intact and faculty were allowed to go in and take what they pleased (first come, first served). Staff were later allowed to come in and take what remained, the rest was donated. Out of the pickings I found a set of books that grabbed my attention from the start. Six emerald-green hard-back books with gold-embossed letters, published in the early 1900’s. Inside the cover of each was a bookplate of the library from which they were withdrawn. The top of the cover page, on the opposing side, bore the signature of the then-champion and rescuer of these precious tomes from the dust-bin. Now he was with the Lord, and the books were in danger of the heat of the city dump (or worse!) once again.

The books are a set of contemplations, teachings and insights of an Australian minister and master storyteller, F.W. Boreham (1871-1959). I’d never heard of F.W. Boreham, but the books were so intriguing then, and are captivating now. A whole set of matching books. Must have been important, must have made some contribution, sometime, somewhere. I’ve read each one since I found them a home on my self, and recently, they’ve been appealing to my eye once again. Tonight, I took one off the shelf and brought it to the kitchen table, for our dinner-time reading, the “The Silver Shadow.”

Now, stop right there. There is a golden nugget here, and we’ve not even cracked the book. You don’t want to miss this treasure that lies on the surface. What is a “silver shadow?” Well, what is a shadow? Simply put a shadow is a shade, or partial darkness cast from an object juxtaposed to it’s light-source, a dark figure cast on another surface. Older usages of the word include the concept of “reflection.” Ahh. Now we are getting somewhere.

What, then, is a “silver shadow,” and what does the author mean by the title, “The Silver Shadow?” The title would not be at all appealing should he have said, “The Mirror.” That’s too prosey; nevertheless, the author intends nothing more than to communicate how his book will cause one to take a good, long, honest look at oneself and perhaps become discontent with what is seen and desire for change.

This is where I get excited, making the swing from natural, or general revelation, to special revelation. It is such a fulfilling ride. We aren’t accustomed to thinking like this. This is just one reason why the older books are so intriguing to me. Though the authors are long-gone, through their writing they still invite the reader to sit in the office and think alongside them. They don’t think for the reader. A Godly writer will take you on a journey from yourself, to the cross, to the image of Christ.

I read the first chapter out-loud during dinner. I enjoy reading to my family so much that I can’t eat. I love to read while they eat. You could have heard a pin drop.

Come back for "Dominoes."

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