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In praise of books

When I was a child we lived on a military base and one of the highlights for me was when my mother would take me to the library on the base. I remember the very large mural depicting Canadian explorers and there was something almost sacred about entering the library in the silence and seeing the vast array of books each of which contained treasures.

I loved to read, I loved to learn and I still do. There is something almost magical about opening the pages of a book and seeing an entire new world of ideas present themselves to you. I would become captivated by reading and learning and that passion is still with me today many years later.

When I became an officer in the Navy I had a chance to revisit the library and I was sad to see that the large mural was actually not that big and I had seen far bigger collections of books as I had studied at McGill and in seminary by that time. The silence, however, was still there!

While today I have many books on kindle (thinking I could replace my books in a much more portable way), I still return to books when I wish to seriously engage a topic. While an electronic book has the works, it lacks the tactile and the ability to return with ease to a former page now carefully marked with a book marker or in my case business cards or ribbons.

In my home, I have many books and they are like having dialogue partners with whom I can discuss ideas. Many homes such as those of my friends do not have books as they equate books with clutter. These are homes whose walls. rather than having the spirit and the ideas of the authors begging you to enter into them, are filled with memorabilia and family photos or even copies of art. A book however beckons us beyond the confines of our family, or our imagination and engages us with the eternal ideas of thinkers or figures from the past. We can discuss with Newton, or various saints. We can explore the arctic and cross the ocean on the perilous crossings in the days when scurvy lurked in the hulls of every vessel. We can walk with hobbits, or stomp with orcs, we can traverse both time and space with the simple turn of a page. A book invites us to do all of this.

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