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.