Wow! I’m on a string of rocking good books lately. I started Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me today and immediately went out and grabbed my highlighter and began to mark it up. The author is Karen Swallow Prior. The book is about how literature has shaped her journey through life, not to mention her soul. The first chapter is called “Books Promiscuously Read: John Milton’s Aeropagitica.” She says two things from the start which sent me running from my highlighter:
Books have formed the soul of me (p.10) [Do I even need to comment on this. Anyone who loves books understands and if you don’t love books you don’t care anyway].
For much of my life, I loved books more than God, never discovering for a long, long time that a God who spoke the world into existence with words is, in fact, the source of meaning of all words. My journey toward that discovery is the story of this book. I thought my love of books was taking me away from God, but as it turns out, books were the backwoods path back to God, bramble-filled and broken, yes, but full of truth and wonder (p. 11).
The first chapter is a defense of books promiscuously read. She refers to “promiscuous” in its original meaning which is indiscriminate mixing. I won’t explain what she says because you’ll enjoy reading the book much more if I don’t make hash of her argument before you’ve picked it up. The chapter [and her point] argues that true truth is its own defender, which is [obviously] the point of Milton’s Aeropagitica. She writes: Milton argued passionately in this treatise that the best way to counteract falsehood is not by suppressing it, but by countering it with truth. The essence of Milton’s argument is that truth is stronger than falsehood; falsehood prevails through the suppression of countering ideas (p. 19) In the course of the chapter she has a couple of priceless anecdotes about experiencing attempts at “censorship” in her own life.
The best takeaway quote summing up her journey through Aeropagitica:
So this was my introduction to Aeropagitica and, more importantly, the idea that the God I had been raised to believe in was not a God of record burning and book blotting, but a God of freedom…And I felt utterly liberated (p. 24).
Beg. Buy. [Don’t] Steal. Read.