Stealing the Books of the Dead ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stealing the Books of the Dead

Once or twice a semester, unsolicited boxes of books appear on tables in an entry area at my campus. These books are orphans--discarded by their owners for reasons unknown. Sometimes the reasons are pretty obvious though, such as when all the books are 50-year-old paperbacks. But since the occupants of my campus are seminary students, all of whom can read, and many of whom are incurable optimists, these book dumps always create some excitement. Students gather around the tables, eagerly picking through the neglected tomes. Such was the scene today.

Having already completed my perfunctory assessment (50-year-old paperbacks with two exceptions, one of which I grabbed) I was cramming for a quiz as other students rifled through the books with a kind of morbid, understated excitement.

"These have probably been picked through pretty thoroughly."
"Who was he, anyway."
"I heard that he died at that big church up north--got trampled at a youth group concert."
"Too bad. You know, if someone really had his act together, he could sell these on eBay."
"No one would buy these, they're too dated."

It reminded me of that moment in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge observes his own funeral:
‘No,’ said a great fat man with a monstrous chin,’ I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know he’s dead.’
‘When did he die.’ inquired another.
‘Last night, I believe.’
‘Why, what was the matter with him.’ asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuffbox. ‘I thought he’d never die.’
‘God knows,’ said the first, with a yawn.

Seriously, put out the books, and the seminary students descend like vultures. Is someone watching on hidden camera, chuckling wryly at how easily we are controlled? If so, we don't really mind. Free books--that's the important thing. And today I defied the odds and picked up a copy of Faulkner's The Reivers--you don't know how rare it is to find classic literature at these events...

My hope is that these are the book collections of failed, maverick pastors who were eventually cast out of Southern Baptist life for teaching strange doctrines of youth group ministry that banked heavily on bad Christian music and the Left Behind series. That's the only way to explain some of their libraries.

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.


Regi G said...

Bad Christian music?

"Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?" *snick-snick-snicker*


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife