Friday, October 10, 2003

Cutting Edge. Yes!
When I was a seventh grader, during the famous ‘Summer of Love,’ the Smith family headed west for their first visit to California. While in San Francisco I was searching for a souvenir of slightly more meaning than the inflatable pillow that I had purchased in Haight-Ashbury. (I should have been taking all of this ‘culture’ in, but to a prissy 12 year-old from suburban Milwaukee it just looked like a lot of unclean, disorganized people.) At one point we went into a big bookstore and my mother told the clerk that I wanted a special book. Something different. Something I would treasure as a souvenir of this trip. The clerk showed me a book that was going to be the next big best-seller. Really big. Everybody would be reading it. I didn’t take it. True Grit. A cowboy/cowgirl book? I don’t remember what I did buy. But I remember True Grit. I wound buying it at a bookstore at home. It was one of those books that all of my friends bought and then we would sit around eating pretzels, drinking Kool-AId and reading together. (Not aloud - just simultaneously.) By the way, my children think this is sooo weird......we had a good time, but I guess I can’t force my idea of fun on the kids.

So anyway, thirty-plus years later, I remember True Grit and my opportunity to be on the cutting edge. Ahead of the pack. That moment has returned.

I opened the new (well, at least for me - do they deliver to subscribers in alphabetical order?) First Things. Page 63 of the August/September issue, Fr. Neuhaus writes, “Get The Spirit of Early Christian Thought and read it. Read it slowly, letting [Robert Louis] Wilken take you by the hand to enter into conversation with Augustine, Cyprian, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, and others; all of whom got The Christian Thing right.”
I already have it. I’m half way through it. Fr Neuhaus isn’t kidding. This is a great book. And I’m ahead of the curve. (Here I must admit that it was given to me by my spiritual director - I didn’t just pick it up at the check-out rack at Wal-Mart. So I’m not taking credit for discovering Wilken’s book. Just acknowledging the fact that I didn’t toss it back at him a la True Grit.)

This certainly makes up for all the popular books I haven’t read....Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Bridges of Madison County, The Da Vinci Code, The South Beach Diet......

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