I have often heard of a distinction – though I have never understood it – between reading books and something called real life experience. We are, apparently, supposed to believe that reading and living are two quite different things, as opposed to one another as girls and boys or night and day. There is, we are told, a moral dualism between reading and living. One of these activities is abstract, the other is concrete and practical. One is artificial, the other is true and real. One involves only the mind, the other involves the body. Personally I have never accepted that dualism. Not only because it is a heresy; and not only because it is opposed to the Old Testament, which views reading as the source of living (Psalm 1); but also because my experience has disproved it a thousand times. Ever since I was a boy I have experienced reading books not as the opposite of living but as a particularly grand and intensified form of it.
2. Holy Luck
What’s happening in October? Eugene Peterson has a book of poetry coming out, that’s what. John Wilson (@jwilson1812) discusses it on the most recent Books & Culture podcast, and he reads an excerpt from the introduction as well as two of the poems.
3. Inspiring bookstores
My mom, knowing how much I love books and bookstores, sent me this link to ten great bookstores from around the world – many of them jaw-dropping.
God’s grace sustains creation; God’s grace constrains evil; God’s grace enables redemption. It is because we live in the time of God’s patience (a phrase that Richard Mouw ascribes to his Mennonite friends) that rain nourishes the crops of both those who follow Jesus and those who don’t, artists can find and make beauty in God’s creation whether they follow Jesus or no, governments can act as God’s ministers by constraining evil whether they acknowledge the rule of God or not, and therapists can bring healing to broken relationships or nurses and doctors to broken bodies whether they acknowledge the healing power of God or not. God’s common grace (as Richard Mouw and others call it) – a grace that makes all human life, all creaturely existence possible – is as effective as God’s special grace, by which God brings people into a recognized and grateful relationship with himself.
[Image: Alta Acqua bookstore in Venice, Italy via studentessamatta.com]