A (very late) Book Meme

Tim tagged me for a book meme some ages ago. Dialup and time crunch prevented me again from doing this before; but here it is at last:

  1. How many books have I owned? Well, I don’t have an exact figure, but I think I’ve owned or own around a thousand books. As Tim, my collection is slowly growing because I also don’t think that getting rid of books is apropriate.
  2. What was the last book you bought? That’s an extremely difficult question, because after coming back to Paraguay I had to forsake completely the buying of new books due to financial reasons. I honestly don’t remember when I bought the last one. Since my comeback I’ve gotten a lot of new books, but only as gifts or as part of supplies given by an employer. Perhaps one of my last book purchases was a set of Tom Clancy novels in a discount book store back in Grand Rapids, a little over three years ago.
  3. Last book that you’ve read: The last book I’ve finished is Trevayne, a novel by Robert Ludlum. It’s good entertainment, but nothing else. Meanwhile, I’m reading Discusión, Inquisiciones, y Otras Inquisiciones by Jorge Luis Borges, the Iliad of Homer in the version of Alexander Pope, some essays by C.S. Lewis, and the Systematic Theology, vol. I, by Wolfhart Pannenberg.
  4. Five books that have meant a lot to you: Here they are, in no particular order. Disclaimer: The Bible and portions thereof are omitted; if it weren’t so, this blog post would be “Biblically monotonic”.
    • El Aleph and any prose by Jorge Luis Borges: Borges is such a master of letters! Before him, I thought I would never try writing seriously; I thought writing was for people who could write exceedingly well. But Borges had a way to express himself in brilliant, flawless Spanish (believe me, you just have to read him in the original) and yet he did so with the utmost clarity and concision. His prose look effortless, yet perfect. He convinced me to write. The facts that he was, perhaps, one of the most learned men known by our Western civilization, a man from Latin America and a country neighboring mine, and someone extraordinarily conversant with the Bible were all bonuses. Borges is my measure of a writer.
    • St. Thomas Aquinas, Collationes super Credo in Deum. Some part of my personal history that few people know is that prior to my conversion I was a Roman Catholic, and for some time a numerary member of the Opus Dei to boot. While I was in the Opus Dei I discovered a little book [St. Thomas Aquinas, Escritos de Catequesis, Josep–Ignasi Saranyana, ed. (Madrid:, 1978, 2nd. ed.)], and the first work in it was Aquinas’ exposition on the Apostolic Symbol. This small, beautiful work from Aquinas opened my mind in several ways. It showed me that philosophy and theology could be beautiful. It showed me that good thinking shouldn’t be complicated. It showed me what I finally wanted to be: a Christian philosopher and theologian who could perhaps one day advance the state of knowledge of these disciplines for the glory of God, and yet being simple and understandable enough that any interested person could grasp what I was saying.

      Nowadays I have in my personal library the same work in another edition, edited by the same J.I. Saranyana (St. Thomas Aquinas. Obras catequéticas. Pamplona: Eunate, 1995). I am very fond of it

    • Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, The Heidelberg Catechism (several editions). When I first opened the little booklet of the Catechism and saw that beautiful Question 1, I was struck thinking, “hey, is that theology? I could use this for my devotional!” And then it dawned to me that such a distinction was artificial and moot. The Heidelberg Catechism showed me the way of being a Christian theologian and philosopher: first and foremost for the glory of God, and the standard for all Christian theology and philosophy was how much it pointed to a deeper life in God, full of personal and communal piety. I use the Catechism with joy and profit to this day.
    • Some Natural Sciences encyclopaedia. A favorite part of my childhood was spent leafing through the four massive, leather-bound volumes of a Natural Sciences encyclopaedia. When I couldn’t read yet, I wondered about the wonderful full-color, beautifully drawn illustrations of plants, animals and things that I saw daily at home, and wondered about them. And additionally, there were an number of animals and things so strange and wonderful that filled me with awe and curiosity. When I began to read, I devoured the four volumes time after time. That encyclopaedia is now lost, even to the extent that I cannot recall the exact title nor the authors; but that encyclopaedia was one of the books that made me a reader. For that I also have to thank my parents, who weren’t afraid to place a massive, and obviously expensive, book into my childish hands.
    • Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God. Although Moltmann is not someone who has my full agreement on most things, this book really changed the way I did theology. Moltmann showed me some of the unfathomable depths of the mysteries of Christ’s death on the cross, and showed me also who God’s truth cannot be constrained by human thinking. It taught me humilty and realism in my theological reflection; and for that I am grateful. The book was written about 30 years ago, and it is still fresh, and still inviting to reflection now.
  5. Tag five people that haven’t played yet. I am sorry, Tim; but I think now it is too late and most people had already answered to this. But I would be happy to tag anyone who volunteers, though 🙂

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