Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Dangers of Reading

Sometimes I wish I didn't read so much.
The more I read the more I find myself obligated to behave differently.

Maybe I should find another addiction hobby.

If I spent more time knitting maybe I could slide along in my life without growing on the inside. I could sit in my comfortable world, doing the things I want, being a mostly decent person with maybe a few minor faults, not worrying about Ideas and their consequences. 

If I gave up my books I could be grouchy with my family and not have Shakespeare's reproof running through my head like a song,

Fie! Fie! Unknit that threatening unkind brow and dart not scornful glances from those eyes.... 
...a woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled: muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty, and none so thirsty will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.  


If I gave up my books I could be insulted and mistreated by others and wallow in my self pity instead of having St. John Chrysostom's fiery tongue driving home the messages of the Sermon on the Mount, reminding me that it's a beautiful blessing to have the opportunity to turn the other cheek.

If I gave up books I could educate my kids the easy way with prepackaged curriculum, checking boxes and following someone else's plan, instead of consuming my time with working out the details of how education must be different if
Children are born persons
Education is the Science of Relations
Maybe books should come with warning labels:

Warning: this book has the potential to change you. Read at your own risk. 

Caveat emptor. 

If I put my books away I could avoid heartbreaking descriptions of horror and cruelty like those found in White Fang and many other books. In fact I almost didn't finish White Fang.

But I decided to keep reading anyway.

And if I hadn't finished I would have missed the beauty of his rescue and the glorious redemption of love.

If I had put away Little House I would never have known that my education was not as good as that of Laura Ingalls.

If I had put away Bulfinch I could never have truly appreciated the genius of J.K. Rowling.

Without heroes like Hector and Beowulf I would delight less in heroes like Aragorn and Gandalf.

And if I put my books away I would not be aware of those things that call me to a higher, better way. I would never know that there is more to life than just what meets the eye. Instead I would be left behind in the darkness of Plato's cave, never aware of the brilliant light which truly can burn, but which also illuminates and transforms.

So I guess I'll have to take the discomfort that invites change. The first step out of darkness into light has already been taken, and for me there's no turning back.