The love of books is the love of life.
Jason was quite adamant. He and Juan, bi-vocational pastors at Providence Bible Church, Denver, Colorado, were staying in our Indianapolis home for a few nights while they attended a conference.
“I began to notice titles in your library, loft, bookshelves downstairs, and even in your bathroom,” Jason sounded as if he were presenting a courtroom case. “You have books on marketing, leadership, psychology, philosophy, history, theology, Bible, literature, economics . . . the list is endless! I want to know why you have such a vast array of subjects on your shelves.” And if I had missed it the first time, Jason repeated, “Explain yourself.”
A smile dawned upon my face as I reminisced. “When I was growing up as a teenager, my public school classmates were asking me questions neither I nor my church could answer. It was then that I was introduced to Dr. Francis Schaeffer.”
Jason and Juan nodded. They knew Schaeffer, having read his books. After his many writings such as The God Who Is There and He is There and He is Not Silent, video series impacted many. The series I showed my high school senior classes was entitled How Shall We Then Live? (based on the statement from Ezekiel 33.10). The Schaeffers opened a retreat center in Switzerland called L’Abri, “the shelter.”
“One of the key ideas that Schaeffer drove home to me was that there was no separation between the sacred and secular. A person could study anything with a Christian mindset. The carpenter builds buildings mirroring the order, the structure of creation. The biologist could discover the mysteries of life because the Creator of life had made human discovery possible. The business person could follow financial pathways that could generate blessings for seller and buyer. The list was endless.”
My face brightened. “But what I learned most, what I learned best, was that God made His world harmonious. Everything fit together. Theologians call it ‘coherence.’ Schaeffer referred to coherence as ‘warp and woof’: the intersection of vertical and horizontal threads, making fabric.”
“And that’s why you named your website ‘Warp and Woof’,” Juan concluded. My eyes smiled in response.
“Interdisciplinary studies has been a life-long love for me,” I pondered. “The Hebraic-Christian understanding of life finds threads of God’s laws crisscrossing everywhere, through everything. Politics intersects with economics which meets sociology overlapping issues of justice all connected with biblical theology.”
“I continually find all of life and the whole of God’s world to be fascinating, open to investigation, ripe for application, and always impacting my thoughts. This whole discussion brings me back to my library. I read everything because God made possible all subjects of study; therefore, if everything is important to God, it should be important to me.”
Jason and Juan eventually invited me to teach at the Providence Center for Urban Leadership Development because of my library.
This week I was drawn to The New York Times article “Francis S. Collins: By the Book” because of his library. Collins gives important pointers to everyone about what they should read. Here are a few of Collins’ memorable lines:
One must dig deeply into opposing points of view in order to know whether your own position remains defensible. Iron sharpens iron.
my life was turned upside down 35 years ago by reading C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity.”
I was a regular at the public library, and I read everything
Dan Brown books have left me agitated. I keep trying to like them, but the subtle distortions of history get in the way.
I would like to meet Luke the physician, the author of the third Gospel. I’d want to have a long conversation over coffee to learn everything about him — as a doctor, a follower of Jesus and a gifted writer.
Peoples’ reading habit should broaden our own. This past week I met a man who has a personal library of 23,000 volumes. Just being in the presence of so many volumes makes me remember this quote from Alfred Edward Newton, American book author, publisher, collector:
Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity. We cherish books. Even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance.
Jason and Juan learned that my library habits were started when I was 16, a young protégé of Dr. Francis Schaeffer who influenced me from afar.
I never met Schaeffer but his reading, his library habits, his thinking were a daily conversation with my own.
Personally seeking truth wherever its found, the smell of books and the presence of book shelves will always enliven Mark. Dr. Eckel, Professor of Leadership, Education & Discipleship at Capital Bible Seminary, acquaints students around the country with books about most everything.