Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is frequently taken as a warning about censorship, yet Bradbury’s chief concern was far more profound than the banning of books. On his own account, Bradbury set out to protest a culture in which people prefer television and other distractions and so choose not to read at all. Today, to awaken us from the self-imposed soft-censorship of our digital screens, we are more in need of Fahrenheit 451 than ever. Take up and read.
“In pessimistic moments (usually after watching television), I wonder if Western civilization has moved into a new Dark Age in which we sit around all day in recliner chairs listening to rap music, watching game shows and Survivor reruns, and eating fast food. Perhaps the church will be called on again, as it was in the original Dark Ages, to preserve literature and learning.” Philip Yancey, in the foreword to Scott Larsen, Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003).
“In [Benedict’s] Rule we can distinguish the two elements we have seen in the life of St. Benedict: the knowledge of letters and the search for God. The fundamental fact that stands out in this domain is that one of the principal occupations of the monk is the lectio divina, which includes meditation: meditari art lagere. Consequently, one must, in the monastery, possess books, know how to write them and read them, and, therefore, if it be necessary, learn how to read… the word bibliotheca, which he uses in referring to books read in Lent, can mean, for him, the Bible. But St. Benedict evidently takes for granted the existence of a library, and a fairly extensive one at that, since each monk is supposed to receive a codex in Lent…” Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture (Fordham, 1961).
“Books! They keep me up late. They sometimes wake me up, summoning me from my bed in the middle of the night. My best friends. My worst enemies… Because every book I see says ‘come hither and I will make you wise.’ I have now read so many of them they cannot live up to their allurements. Yet all librophiliacs (book lovers, and I did not make this one up) are on the make for that one scintillating paragraph that hides in the deep interior of some book yet to be read. To put it more simply, I’m a sucker for a great read! I always feel the next book I pick up will be the one great book I dare not miss.” Calvin Miller, in Indelible Ink (p. 82).
“One does not live by bread alone…” Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 4:4)