Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Public Library as Spiritual Formation Device

Last week, I made a trip to the public library downtown, since they had a copy of Lionel Shriver's latest novel, and I wanted something good to read.  I knew I'd be headed down there, so I thought I'd hit their theology section while I was there.  To make it easier, I looked up some names in advance.

The downtown Ft. Lauderdale branch has an AMAZING theology section.  Unfortunately, they don't always have the latest books by my favorite authors.  But it's good to catch up on some oldies that I've missed.

I wanted Paula Huston's latest, which they didn't have.  But they did have an earlier book, Forgiveness:  Following Jesus into Radical Loving.  Likewise, I'd have liked one of Scot McKnight's later works.  Instead, I got Praying with the Church:  Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today.  I would have liked anything by Barbara Brown Taylor.  My only option was The Preaching Life.  But I haven't read it, and it's fairly timeless, so it's a treat.

While there, I saw At the Corner of East and Now:  A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy, by Frederica Mathewes-Green.  I snatched it off the shelf, as if hordes of spiritual seekers were in the next row.

But of course, they weren't.  I was all alone in the Christian books section.  And again, what a marvelous section:  lots of church history, lots of theology that would be at home in a seminary library, lots of lighter weight fare too.

I think we often forget what a great resource our public libraries can be, even in our age of downsizing.  These collections were often built in a different time (hence the lack of very recent material), and much of it holds up very well.

Many of us go to churches that don't have great libraries, and we might feel like we have to buy these resources.  But before you do, check out your public library!

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