Remember the dreaded summer reading list? Marching into the bookstore under the thumbscrew of one's parent, wagging that mimeographed piece of paper with titles such as Huckeleberry Finn, Moby Dick, For Whom the Bell Tolls, To Kill a Mockingbird,? Those were the days. We groaned or we secretly coveted the time allotted for reading. For some of us, reading was a welcome bliss from the intrusion of melancholy. Isolating in an air-conditioned sanctuary at the public library and diving into classic literature was as close as we'd get to utopia, if there ever was such a thing; and, for others, the 'list' and its demands was a chore that interfered with other activity, like water-skiing until we were raisined, or watching the idiot box all afternoon. Time, when young, seems endless until the hours of summer have waned and there's but a week left before Miss Bradshaw's English class begins. That's when it seems there is no justice. One is confident the whole world does revolve around their doom and dismay.
In the interest of nostalgia and good, old fashioned sweat of the brow thinking for oneself, I've compiled a list for you. Consider this your end of summer reading assignment; and, you better get at it, because there is plenty to pour over. Yes, there will be a quiz. I want you to read the funny-bone tickling, yet somber article of P.J. O'Rourke on science and religion found here in Science and Spirit magazine. To get you started, it is short. Good stuff.
This lengthy essay from City Journal, posted at Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal contemplates Obama's Shamanic nature. It strikes me as prophetic-What do you think? Try out R.R. Reno's essay on permanence as he ponders the tattoo. And, this one is for the skeptic: a piece from Sean Curyn's Right Wing Bob ( relax, it is no Bob Jones University manifesto) that explores what, and for whom Bob Dylan might really stand.
Ok, that's it for now. Turn off the tv. Get a glass of your favorite beverage. Start a load of wash. Put your feet up. Read. (for those of you with children, animals and other worthy time-consuming activities, please don't scoff or shoot me, the messenger.) Reading is a good thing, and so are most of the activities that prevent us from taking time/having time to read. The challenge is in deciding. Believe you me, reading and thinking on that reading has had a significant role in shaping me. If I read less, I'd probably have painted my bathroom by now. If I read less, I would have more new clothing. What I treasure about reading is not simply the doing of it, but the confrontation it most always offers; what happens in me, as a result.
I can still recall the smell the mimeograph machine left in the paper, the reading lists, and the yearning in my gut to get at it. I hope you have something for which you long like reading that hints at heaven.