Pew Report: Americans Still Love Libraries, Especially the Books

library-world historyAs you might guess, we always appreciate good news on the library front, especially when reports say that people still love libraries, especially the books. This recent Pew report, therefore, was music to my ears. I want to shout (sing out!), “But, of course, how could it be otherwise!”

Part of me understands why our society would question the value of libraries today. Technology dominates the scene. Visual stimulation abounds as never before. And so, reading is down, no matter what form it comes in. With that, books can be perceived as being on the demise.

Yet, the library still stands in the center of our culture as a powerful source of information and means to obtain knowledge in all areas of life. And while the Internet may be often viewed as the source of information today, the ‘common’ book is still a mighty means. Once inside a library, PC’s and laptops may beckon, but those stacks of codexes are a irresistible draw. The books still define what a library is about.

In case you are in doubt, read this Pew report, part of which is quoted below (with the link to the rest afterward). Better yet, visit your local library this week. Find out what’s to love. The Seminary library (and bookstore!) is open too.🙂

More than half of all Americans 16 and over used a public library in the past year, either in person or via the the Web, according to a survey report on library use released this week by the Pew Research Center. The survey also found that Americans continue to view public libraries as vital to their communities: some 77% say that public libraries provide them with the resources they need, and 66% say the closing of their local public library would have a major impact on their community.

Source: Pew Report: Americans Still Love Libraries, Especially the Books

“‘Take your time,’ the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. ‘We’re not going anywhere.'” ~ N.Carr

That was just a digital dalliance [That is, spending time in the computer room while a student at Dartmouth College]. For every hour I passed in Kiewit [the computer room], I must have spent two dozen next door in Baker [the main library at Dartmouth].  I crammed for exams in the library’s cavernous reading room, looked up facts in the weighty volumes on the reference shelves, and worked part-time checking books in and out at the circulation desk. Most of my library time, though, went to wandering the long, narrow corridors of the stacks. Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call “information overload.” There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait years, decades even, for the right reader to come along and pull them from their appointed slots. Take your time, the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. We’re not going anywhere.

shallowsbookcover-222x300This wonderful, personal description of the powerful influence of libraries and books comes from Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (Norton, 2010), p.12.

We will have more to say on the powerful message of this book later (one Prof. B. Gritters read and recommended this summer), but for now relish the serene and soothing experience of the world of books and the library.🙂

The Medium is the Message: How We Read and How It Affects Us

PrintVsEbook_WB-768x432Yet another article on the ebook vs. the physical book debate?

Yes, but this one is more than that too. This article from the past week (posted August 24, 2016) calls for ebooks and modern technology to master its form so as to encourage more reading in a variety of ways, even as we recognize now that the physical book is here to stay.

The author has some points worth considering, even as I continue to embrace both forms of reading (But you should know my personal preference by now). Case in point: on this rainy Saturday in West Michigan I did some Kindle reading this morning, and then headed out to a local Christian thrift store to browse the books. I walked away with a bag of paperback and hardcover treasures (75% for the Seminary library, it turns out!). It has been a good day for books and reading. I trust for you too.

To read the article by John Bradley, visit the link below. What follows is his opening paragraph and a later one:

New technology masquerading as an old standby sets itself up for failure. Carrying a Kindle in your jacket pocket is certainly simpler than juggling all seven hardback volumes of In Search of Lost Time. But, if the only problem the Kindle sought to solve was luggage space, paperbacks and carryons have long since done the trick. E-readers, and by extension modern technology needs to play to its strengths.

…The common refrain for lovers of the printed word, is that the feel, the heft of a book is what draws their delight. How else to describe the difference between your Nook copy of Infinite Jest and the paperback edition, scuffed and shredded to death from countless bus rides, clipped together and written over throughout, a Field Notes notebook taped to back cover to keep up with characters—speaking from personal experience, there’s hardly a better way to read such a tome.

 

Source: The Medium is the Message: How We Read and How It Affects Us – The Wild Detectives

Published in: on August 27, 2016 at 4:39 PM  Leave a Comment  

New U.S. Head Librarian Portrayed as Liberal Activist

In major library news this week, it seems even our national library is not safe from progressivism. The Heritage Foundation reported on the confirmation of the new person to head the Library of Congress, and judging from this article, it is not good news.

We shall see what transpires with this pick, but the potential for fundamentally changing the nature and purpose of the Library is real. Let us hope that Carla Hayden will maintain the high standards and philosophy of her predecessors.

Below is part of the report; read the rest at the link below.

Conservative critics of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Library of Congress were blindsided Wednesday when a key Republican engineered her lopsided confirmation by the Senate despite concerns she is, in the words of one opponent, “an unqualified, far-left progressive.”

The Senate voted 74-18 to confirm Carla D. Hayden, who leads Baltimore’s public library system, as the 14th librarian of Congress.

…Critics said Hayden falls short of the scholarly credentials traditionally expected of the nation’s librarian of Congress.

However, Blunt, chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, scheduled a June 9 committee vote that recommended Hayden’s confirmation to the full Senate.

“Hayden has made a name for herself in the far-left community as a radical activist,” the conservative group Concerned Women for America wrote Blunt and the committee before that vote. “This position is not one for radical activism, but for academic honesty and integrity.”

Before the Senate vote, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called Hayden “an unqualified, far-left progressive.”

“Republicans should be very concerned about what her confirmation could mean for the Congressional Research Service, which is the research arm from which they get unbiased, nonpartisan research,”  von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.

“This is someone so far to the left that The Nation magazine ran a headline when she was nominated about how a ‘radical librarian’ may soon run the Library of Congress,” von Spakovsky said in an interview just hours before Blunt’s unexpected move to bring the nomination to the Senate floor.

Hayden, 63, succeeds James Billington, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan who served for 28 years before retiring last fall.

Source: GOP Senator Gets Obama’s ‘Far Left’ Pick Confirmed

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Published in: on July 16, 2016 at 1:27 PM  Leave a Comment  

Final Thoughts… on Words and Books – M.B. Lubbers

In the latest issue (June 2016) of the Adams’ Announcer (Christian School where some of our grandchildren attend) Mrs. Mary Beth Lubbers reflects on her impending retirement as a Christian school teacher – after 45 years!

Mary Beth is one of my favorite teachers – and I didn’t even have her for one. She taught several of our children in South Holland, IL, instructing them with “old-school” philosophy but with fresh ideas and daily enthusiasm for learning. Our children still speak of her influence on their lives.

Mary Beth (Mrs. Lubbers!), we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your faithful work as teacher for those 45 years! We will miss you and your inspirational teaching. But know that it lives on in the hearts, minds, and lives of our covenant children.

Her article, titled “Final Thoughts”, includes some of her punchy insights into today’s educational world, some of which I would like to include here today, especially her thoughts on word-use and books. I think you too will appreciate her “final thoughts.”

After so many years of dealing with the word ‘friend’ as a noun, I cannot see myself using ‘friend’ as a verb, as in the popular: ‘I will friend you.’ Similarly, the word ‘listen’ has always functioned in our language as a verb or verbal; how can I switch to calling it a noun as CNN so frequently does with its glib: ‘Take a listen.’ The word ‘like’, of course, currently qualifies as any part of speech one wants it to be. Those are grammatical adjustments I am unwilling to accommodate. But, I predict these aberrations will eventually nudge their way into our lexicon. So, it comes down to ‘Mrs. Lubbers, get on the train or get off the track.’ Well, I am getting off the track even as I continue to rail against such nonsense.

On top of all that, ‘computer-ese’ is not my second language. …For me, chrome is a shiny decoration on a fast car. It will never be a Chromebook. I recognize books as beautifully bound in leather with wonderful papery textures that respond to one’s very touch. They hold the link of letters and words and phrases and sentences and paragraphs that fire the imagination and magnify our small worlds. And I really am convinced that Johann Gutenberg’s printing press of 1440 was the first and last great invention A.D. I have always taught from books, and if I lacked the books, I am pretty sure, by now, I could teach and inspire kids from my head and heart. The spoken word. Stories that come alive. Poetry to delight the senses.

Well said, Mary Beth. May we carry on the ‘good fight’ against verbal and grammatical nonsense and FOR good books and traditional reading.

Book Alert! Christianizing the World – David J. Engelsma

christianizing-world-DJE-2016Time for another book alert, this time relating to a new publication from the Reformed Free Publishing Association. The book is titled Christianizing the World: Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?, and is the substance of a speech given by emeritus professor David J. Engelsma (PRC Seminary) in 2014 in the Grand Rapids, MI area.

The book is occasioned by the recent translation and publication of Abraham Kuyper’s major Dutch work on common grace and  addresses the contemporary theological and ecclesiastical fascination with this doctrine, especially as it relates to Christianity’s calling in regards to culture – summarized by the author as “Christianizing the World.”

This is how he describes it in his preface:

For many years, it has been widely accepted in Reformed circles worldwide that the theory of common grace developed by the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper and the project of Christianizing the world by this common grace, which Kuyper exhorted, are Reformed orthodoxy. Of late, this thinking spreads among evangelicals both in North America and across the world.

…Few, if any, question this quixotic (ad)venture with regard to its biblical and Reformed bases. Conservative and liberal Reformed theologians, scholars, churches, and seminaries alike enthusiastically endorse and promote the project and its theological foundation and source in a common grace of God.

This book examines the theory of common grace and its cultural ambitions in light of the Reformed creeds and holy scripture, particularly the passages of scripture to which Kuyper and his disciples mainly appeal. The book also calls attention to the deleterious effects of the theory of common grace upon the churches and schools that have adopted it and put it into practice (p.9).

Below is the publisher’s description of the new book:

This book is a critique of Abraham Kuyper’s cultural theory of a common grace of God and of the grandiose mission of this grace, and of those who confess the theory and evidently intend to promote it so that it accomplishes the end Kuyper claimed. The book exposes Kuyper’s biblical basis for his theory and its practical mission.

The first and main part of the book is a much-expanded version of the public lecture given in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014 under the auspices of the evangelism society of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan. The second part of the book consists of questions raised by the audience at the conclusion of the lecture and of the answers by the speaker at the lecture.

  • 192 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-02-3

As you can judge, the book is a significant work in light of the contemporary Reformed-Christian scene. This is a work you will want to read carefully and reference repeatedly if you are interested in the Reformed doctrine of grace and in the calling of the Christian in this world.

Visit the RFPA website for information on ordering this new title.

Honest Christian Book Titles

heavenisforrealThis humorous jab at modern Christian book titles appeared on the Aquila Report (April 16, 2016) and I saved it for a good “Friday Fun” item. So here it is – at least the first five. For the rest, visit the link provided above or below.

What would happen if Christian publishers were actually honest with their book titles? You’d probably end up with books like this.

Don’t Waste Your Life: A Millennial’s Guide To Making Semi-Rash Decisions Out Of A Wartime Mentality

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: How To Not Talk To Girls Until You’re 25 Years Old

Heaven Is For Real: A Book About Heaven From The Perspective Of A Four Year Old Who Had A Near Death Experience And For Some Reason We Believe Him More Than The Bible

Strange Fire: John MacArthur’s Lifelong Rivalry With Benny Hinn

Blue Like Jazz: It’s A Journey, An Authentic Journey, and I Want To Invite You Into My Story

Source: Honest Christian Book Titles

Published in: on May 6, 2016 at 6:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Theology of Donald Trump – M.Horton | Christianity Today

This is an insightful commentary by Dr. Michael Horton (Westminster Seminary, CA) on the “theology” of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and of the throngs of Evangelicals who have jumped on his political bandwagon.

We give you just a snippet of the article, encouraging you to read the rest at the CT link below.

I am not a politician, but a minister who teaches theology. As a citizen of this great republic, I have convictions about domestic and foreign policy, but none of that qualifies me to join the fray of political experts and pundits. I am qualified, however, to engage the topic of significant support among self-identified “evangelical voters” for Donald Trump and what this means, not for the country but what it suggests about significant segments of the US church.

While a theological analysis of other candidates would suggest many equally troubling assumptions of their evangelical followers, no candidate is more identified with the word evangelical as is Trump. The loyalty of his self-identified evangelical followers is especially startling to many.

Let me suggest that the slender thread connecting Trump to the church is his occasional holiday appearances at Marble Collegiate Church, made famous by its pastor for 52 years, Norman Vincent Peale. Blending pop-psychology and spirituality, Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) remained on The New York Times bestsellers list for 186 weeks. Nicknamed “God’s Salesman,” Peale was criticized for trivializing Christianity. Reinhold Niebuhr said that he “corrupts the gospel,” and that he helps people “feel good, while they are evading the real issues of life.”

Source: The Theology of Donald Trump | Christianity Today

Worldview at Home – John Tweeddale

TT-Feb-2016One the final articles I read yesterday in the February Tabletalk addresses the importance of the home in teaching and living a biblical worldview, especially in these evil times in which we find ourselves. Author Dr. John W. Tweeddale points to two extremes we can make in talking about a “theology of the home”: one is idealizing or idolizing the home, while the other is marginalizing the home.

At the end of his article he makes the following comments, which are worth our consideration and contemplation:

The home is not a neutral zone for acting upon baseless desires, nor is it simply a bastion for maintaining traditional values. One of the primary purposes of the home is to cultivate Christlike virtues that animate who we are in private and facilitate what we do in public. When the Apostle Paul addressed the households in the church of Colossae, he instructed wives, husbands, children, masters, and servants alike to put to death the exploits of the flesh, put on the qualities of Christ, and do everything in word and deed for the glory of God (Col. 3:1–4:1). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul sandwiches his instructions to households between teaching on devotion and worship (Eph. 5:1–21) and spiritual warfare (6:1–20). And the Apostle Peter prefaces his comments to families with an extended discussion on the church (1 Peter 2:1–11; 2:12–3:8), an important reminder that home life can never be isolated from church life.

This side of heaven, home should be a place where faith, hope, and love flourish. Faith in the sure work of Christ crucified and resurrected. Hope in the power of the gospel to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. And love for a triune God whose glory and beauty knows no end. The Christian home in a fallen world is a place of rooted optimism. Rooted in the place where God has called us and optimistic about a far greater place He is preparing for us. The home front is the forlorn battlefield of the cultural wars. In our strivings to defend the gospel against doctrinal decline in the church and increasing secularism in the culture, we must not forget the importance of cultivating virtue in the home. For the church to remain a city on the hill, the light of the gospel must shine brightly in the home.

Source: Worldview at Home by John Tweeddale | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

Comments on SCOTUS Homosexual Marriage Decision – B. Van Engen

One of the regular columns in the Standard Bearer is called “Church and State,” and in the most recent issue (Feb.1, 2016) attorney Brian Van Engen (member of the Hull, IA PRC) offers another set of comments on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage (June 2015).

SB-Feb1-2016.jpg

He brings clarification to the issues and begins to look at the implications for religious institutions such as churches and schools. I give you a part of his latest article here (his previous one appeared in the Dec.1, 2015 issue), encouraging you to read it all of it. If you are not an “SB” subscriber, you can become one by visiting the link above.

As mentioned previously, the Court in Obergefell did not create a right to homosexual marriage, but instead found that this right already existed in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and that laws contrary to this right were illegal. While that distinction may seem to be merely a matter of semantics, it does have practical implications. People from both sides of the religious and political spectrum have stated that the rulers have spoken, and we must obey by submitting to this ruling or resigning positions that would cause us to violate our conscience. For instance, shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, media attention was focused on Kim Davis, a district court clerk in Kentucky, who refused to issue marriage licenses and was ultimately sent to prison for several days for her refusal. Even many Christians suggested that she must resign her position in light of the Court’s ruling.

The idea that the Court’s ruling is a mandate which we must obey is contrary to our system of government, under which the Court cannot legally create rights or freedoms or legislate, but only protects those rights which already exist under the Constitution or other laws. This is the reason the Supreme Court “found” the right to homosexual marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Under our system of laws, now that the right to homosexual marriage has been found to exist, that right is simply one right which must be weighed against competing rights. In the case of homosexual marriage, even the liberal majority on the Supreme Court recognized that people may still oppose homosexual marriage for religious reasons, stating:

  • Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.[1]

 

[1] Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)

For a list of the other articles in this issue, see the cover image here.