Thursday, September 14, 2006

To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth

Normally, I am one who enjoys reading and who reads a lot across a fairly broad range of topics. My ancestry includes teachers, theolgians and librarians, my minor in college was English/Literature, I was taught at home how to use the Dewey Decimal System when I was in the sixth grade, and I have been employed by a prestigious research library. By both preference and genetics, I have an affinity, even a love for the written word. I often have strong and specific opinions about books and the ideas they convey.

But at present, I am coming out of a kind of reading slump. For the last 4 months, I really just couldn't read anything, fact or fiction, with any kind of sustaining interest. Taking the summer off from Bible Study Fellowship, a seasonal and especially disciplined reading program, I haven't been in His Word with any degree of intensity or regularity, either. I can't even get through Guitar Player magazine before the next month's issue has shown up already. I have a shelf of unread books glaring scornfully at me from across my office.

This week I read three of Louis L'Amour's books in 3 days. They are not long or hard to read, by any means, nor are they especially well-written. But there is something they have that I find very appealing, a distinct moral clarity of classic proportions, expressed in the romantic ideals of the mythic American West. I find the same is largely true of Tom Clancy at his best, back in the 1990's, although his backdrop is obviously our contemporary culture and his approach more effusive. It is not hard to distinguish right from wrong, virtue from vice, good from evil in these books. They are often not so much about the happy ending, as some might suppose, but about integrity, personal motivation, community, legacy, and the spirtual and ethical importance of "doing the right thing" regardless of the cost or consequence.

Is it literature? Who cares? It reminds me of some of the things that are really important in life and brings back into focus many of my core beliefs. And it gets me reading again.

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