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A Summer To Remember


One of my favorite quotes about books is from Stephen King, “The odor of an old book is the odor of history, and for me, the look of a new one is still the look of the future.” I agree with him wholeheartedly. So I am encouraging you to read something old and something new this summer. You will find it edifying, encouraging, and relaxing.

Let’s start with the old. Consider reading On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. It is only 120 pages long but it is a powerful little book that has withstood the test of time. He lived from 296 – 373 AD. He stood “against the world” for the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ. For it appeared that the whole world was going to follow Arius down the road of a more “sensible” belief and say, “There was time when he (Christ) was not.”

The introduction by C.S. Lewis is worth the price of the book. Let me stir your curiosity with this quote from his introductory thoughts, “It is to his (Athanasius) glory that he did not move with the times: it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away. When I first opened his De Incarnation I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece.”

My second book also has the odor of the past. It is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book first appeared in 1937. It along with The Lord of the Rings started the great surge in fantasy books. In its pages Tolkien actually gives the background to The Lord of the Rings. It all begins when Bilbo Baggins is hired as a burglar by thirteen dwarves who are on a quest to reclaim a treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug. My favorite part of the book is when Bilbo has a conversation with Smaug. Imagine having a polite chat with a dragon!

If you read The Hobbit this summer you will be prepared for the release of the first part in a two part movIe version of this enjoyable book. Start your personal quest early.

In my third recommendation we move to a newer book. The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd by John Piper who does a superb job of applying history to the present. It is a powerful 170 pages long. This is one of my all time favorite books.

Here is a quote from the cover to encourage you to take it up and read, “How does one survive twelve years in a dank prison? How does one survive month after month of a depression so debilitating that death seems the only hope? How does one endure tuberculosis? Or cancer, or emptiness, or death, or loneliness, or divorce? Whatever the trial may be, how does one endure without the soul shriveling up and blowing away with the breeze?” Learn from real people who went through these trials and remained faithful to God.

My final book is Mr. Adams’s Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams’s Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress by Joseph Wheelan. If anyone was born and raised to be president it was John Quincy Adams. He was the son of a president. He had been a US diplomat to several European countries after having lived abroad for many years. He had also been Secretary of State. Surely he would make a great president. Yet his presidency was almost a total failure.

When he was elected to the House of Representatives by the state of Massachusetts he started on an unheard of political comeback. He is forgotten by most today but, in my opinion, he became the William Wilberforce of the United States as a member of the House.

Here is an excerpt from the book: “On December 3, 1844, the second day of the 28th Congress’ Second Session, the seventy-seven-year-old congressman from Massachusetts, as he had every year since 1836, once again asked his colleagues to restore the right to petition…Scarcely daring to hope, Adams requested a vote on the resolution…The final count was 108-80 in favor of abolishing the Gag Rule. That night, Adams wrote in his diary: ‘Blessed, forever blessed, be the name of God!’”

Now, don’t think about the price of these books. Just follow the example of Erasmus who said, “When I get a little money I buy books; if any is left over I buy food and clothes.”

For the love of reading,

Elder Jim Gordon