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I have a thing about books.  I like them.  A lot.  And like many preachers, I have dozens — actually, hundreds — of books.  Most of which I have read — except the reference books, of course.  (I consider any book longer than 200 pages to be a reference book.)  Tonight as I write this, I have an order from Amazon in transit.  My second this week.  My name is Chuck: I am a book-aholic.

Okay, so that said, what could be the most difficult thing for a bibliophile to do?  Part with some of his little “friends” is what.  (I used to have a framed quote from Emerson that said, “In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends.”  Or something like that.)  I almost always never loan out my books.  Mostly because I have in my personal library books others have loaned me.  My thinking goes, “If a preacher doesn’t return books he borrowed, what hope is there for getting a book back from a layperson?”

This thinking is warped, I admit, but then I am not rational when it comes to books.  If I were I would have never bought “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”  I am not making this up.  I no longer possess that volume because I think I loaned it to someone who actually believed the title — the flying saucer part.

But, you know what’s really scary?  And this has happened to me twice, I promise.  I walked into my office in North Carolina one Sunday to find a man perusing my bookshelves.  “Just looking for something good to read,” he said.  When I nervously offered to loan him one of “my books” he was amazed, saying, “I thought this was the church library.”  Same thing happened here right before a funeral.  Either my office looks like the messiest library you’ve ever seen, or this line is a clever dodge that booknabbers use to throw bibliophiles off their trail.  (I’ve just re-read that last sentence, and I think I might need professional help.)

Anyway, today was a glorious day.  Two long lost friends, given up for dead, were returned in a little gift bag, set carefully outside my office door, like a lost puppy waiting to be let in.  Inside the bag, another item I had loaned — a DVD.  Not the same, but glad to have it back as well.  So, tonight all of my friends are safe and secure, lining the shelves of my study, dining room, a bedroom, the den, the living room, and the guest room.  Except for two G. Campbell Morgan books I loaned my Dad, who is also a minister and doing an interim pastorate at age 88.  I’m sure he’ll give them back to me.  After all, I know where he lives.