Friday, August 10, 2007

A Book To Watch For

She found the Encyclopedia Americana and began with FEATHERS, which led her to PTERYLOGRAPHY, BIRD, and FLIGHT; and she was reading FLIGHT when Sister Librarian came over to her and, glancing over her shoulder, said, "Oh, are you interested in FLINCH?"

"No," Sister Bertrille said, "Perico said that feathers have feathers on their feathers, and I was looking it up--" Then she stopped, because she realized that FEATHERS was not what she was reading. . . . "Well," she said, "you know how an encyclopedia is: one thing leads to another--" The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere RĂ­os.
I know all about reading the encyclopedia. My parents bought The World Book Encyclopedia when I was in third grade. To me, this was the most exciting purchase of my childhood. You have to understand that my parents were not bookish people. So there weren’t a lot of books in our house. But they highly valued education, hence the encyclopedia.

I couldn’t believe our good fortune. All of those lovely unread volumes -- none of which would ever need to be returned to the public library. Over the next few years, I must have have read the entire thing, some parts over and over. Of course, I didn’t didn’t sit down with Volume A and read the whole thing straight through. I’d read a random article which would refer me to another topic and another and another . . .

Which is what happens to me now on the Internet. On link leads to another, and suddenly I’ll find myself on an amazingly cool blog or website having no idea how I got there.

Like the time, this past Lent, when I found my way to Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s blog, Standing on my Head. (The title refers to a G.K. Chesterton quote: "Any scene...can be more clearly and freshly seen if it is seen upside down.") He was running a series called "The Gargoyle Code," a take-off on The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Longenecker is certainly not the first person to attempt this, but he's definitely one of the more competent ones. You can read it here, but since it's in blog format, you'll have to scroll down to the very bottom to get the first installment. He's turning it into a book which I'll look forward to buying for my special collection of Catholic fiction. (Since he's already a published author, I feel pretty confident that it will actually make it into print.) Unfortunately, his laptop crashed at the end of July when the book was three quarters finished. Perhaps my fellow biblophagists can spare a few prayers that he will recover his data.

Today he had an interesting post on the interface between Catholicism and popular culture.

For my money, it is the products of popular culture that are making the most profound comments in our society. Of course there is lots of dross, but there is also a lot that is thoughtful, well made and very powerful.
. . . Good stories in movies and novels ultimately support a theistic view of the world. In his essay on fairy tales, J.R.R.Tolkien wrote about the 'eucatastrophe' or the 'happy or just ending' to a story. The happy ending to a story reminds us that life can have a happy ending, and if a happy ending, then meaning, and if meaning, then purpose, and if purpose, then a plan, and if a plan, then a planner.


James H said...

That is so awesome. That was my experience too. Ih and the WOrld books was always so handy for those Science projects

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

A lot of my basic education is due to having read the World Book since a lot of educational experimentation foisted on my generation.