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            I’ve never read any of Patrick O’Brian’s 20-novel series about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars.  Everyone who has seems to be obsessed with them.  I do love books about the sea.  I had a great grandfather who joined the navy at 14 (his father lied about his age) and who was a veteran of both World Wars.  He had great stories about being hundreds of miles from land and having birds visit the ship – or what it was like to have lightning strike so close to the ship that you could watch it progress underwater.  I have read and reread Melville’s Typee, and Moby Dick.  I read Rockwell Kent’s N by E about every other year or so.  But 20 books…..heavens.  That might be half a year’s worth of reading – and I know once I start, I’ll have to finish them all.

            But I found four really good paperback titles from the series on the 25 cent table at the Arlington Public Library and bought them.  The guy who owned them before must have really loved the series, because he recorded inside the front cover each time he reread the books.  Three of the books he read four times or less.  He must have really loved The Nutmeg of Consolation because he read it 7 times between  July 9, 2007, and the final note “Last read 20 Nov. 2010.”;

            It occurred to me that these books were probably on the shelf because their owner died, and none of his relations had any interest in them.  This made me sad.  It also occurred to me that I have favorites as well – to the neglect of other books.  I love the “Barchester” series by Anthony Trollope.  But although I have read Framely Parsonage five times, I’ve read Doctor Thorne only once, and will never likely read it again.

            That’s really of no consequence.  But the thing is I do this with the Bible.  For every time I’ve read Luke, I’ve read John 15 times.  I read Hosea, Amos, and Micah frequently but haven’t read Zechariah from first verse to last more than three times in my entire life.  Generally I prefer narrative to rhetorical portions.  I prefer Psalms to Proverbs.  I’d much rather read the prose portions of Job, than the poetic portion.  This is not a good habit to indulge – and yet entropy and I do indulge it.

            “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” Paul reminds Timothy (II Timothy 3.16).  It is a call to trust the sufficiency of the scriptures.  It is also a call to have a balanced diet of scriptures.  They are all necessary.  I should not be satisfied to be generally ignorant of large segments of scripture.  II Chronicles, Zephaniah, III John, and Jude are in the Bible because God intends that I read them, and be shaped by them.  They convey his voice as clearly as Genesis, John, and James do.

            I resolve to know the whole counsel of God, not just the parts I prefer.  If you have similar habits, I ask you to join me in the same resolution.  Otherwise, our unbalanced diet will have its effect.


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