The current stage of book editing is all about trimming excess. In the next two weeks I hope to whittle off 1,500 words to keep the manuscript around the 55,000-word target. Sadly, this meant cutting out a nice quote that I discovered in my early research and had planned to include in the front matter of the book. The quote has been pruned, but it’s bloggable. Enjoy!
Gene Veith, Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books), 224:
Christians to one extent or another have to read. They are ‘people of the Book,’ whose spirituality and conceptual framework is centered upon the linguistic revelation of the Word of God. As the culture moves farther and farther away from the printed word, Christians will still read. As their neighbors plug themselves in to their video images, Christians may find themselves making up a greater proportion of the reading public. Their tastes and values may matter again. Because readers exert the most influence in a society, however the masses amuse themselves, Christians may find themselves once again the thinkers and leaders of society.
Something similar happened 1500 years ago in the first Dark Age when the Vandals trashed a civilization based on law and learning. Amidst the moral anarchy, staggering ignorance, and image-centered paganism that prevailed for centuries, the tradition of literacy was preserved in the church. Behind the protective walls of the monasteries, books were cherished. They were copied out by hand, carefully stored, and eagerly read. The church was concerned for all kinds of books—Bibles, of course, but also books of medicine and science, works of pagan philosophers such as Aristotle, the poetry of Virgil and the comedies of Plautus. The Vandal aesthetic may be coming back in the anti-intellectualism of the mass culture and in the Postmodern nihilism of the high culture. Christians may be the last readers. If so, they need to be in training.