Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cawley on Reading

Kevin Cawley:

I made a decision just over a year ago that I want my life to be characterized by music that’s trendy and theology that’s not. I love pop music, and I love listening to albums this week that will be discarded and never remembered three months from now. I think pop music, for the most part, is a harmless frivolity in my life.

My thoughts about God, my pursuit of God, and the books that serve these ends, however, are not. I have a new guideline in deciding what books to read. Some might call it neurotic, arrogant, or overly subjective. I think that even if these criticisms are true, I will never go wrong in applying it. What is my guideline? Simple. Whenever possible, read old books. When someone tells me that I’ve “got to read _____ book,” my answer is this: “If it is important for me to read, it will still be important for me to read in twenty years.”

In the meantime, I’m going to focus on honing my own chops in the writings that have shown a slightly stronger longevity. Particularly, I’m focusing my attention on the writings of the English Puritans.

This guideline flows out of two primary convictions, neither of which is old = good and new = bad. First, the Puritans have an understanding of the Christian life that takes God seriously, life seriously, and death seriously. Second, the Puritans have a Godcentered worldview and therefore consistently rebuke my inclinations to magnify myself at God’s expense. Because of these focuses, I’m convinced that the Puritans have a great deal of relevant and powerful wisdom to offer our generation. Nothing about the way they speak of God and the condition of the human soul makes me feel out of touch.

My “advice,” since you’re asking for it, is that you make the commitment to labor through the classics. Your lives, your church, and your city would all benefit by this endeavor—and you will cultivate a deeper love for the God who loved you and gave himself for you.

You can read the entire interview here, pp. 8-9.