The Taser's Edge

My questioning was my attentive spirit

from St. Augustine’s Confessions (X.6, 9), translated by Maria Boulding, OSB

And what is this?
I put my question to the earth, and it replied, “I am not he”;
I questioned everything it held, and they confessed the same.
I questioned the sea and the great deep,
and the teeming live creatures that crawl,
and they replied,
“We are not God; seek higher.”
I questioned the gusty winds,
and every breeze with all its flying creatures told me,
“Anaximenes was wrong: I am not God.”
To the sky I put my question, to sun, moon, stars,
but they denied me: “We are not the God you seek.”
And to all things which stood around the portals of my flesh I said,
“Tell me of my God.
You are not he, but tell me something of him.”
Then they lifted up their mighty voices and cried,
“He made us.”
My questioning was my attentive spirit,
and their reply, their beauty.

Reading for Formation

Part of my reading personality is that I re-read nothing, or next-to-nothing.  Even “favorite” books are not necessarily books I’ve read more than once.  The reason: I know there are plenty of books which I would love to read but will never get to anyway.  So it’s neurotic.  There’s nothing wrong with being neurotic.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about getting some books together to read each year for several years (or every year), books that form me in ways I would like to be formed, books that ignite my creativity or imagination or wonder, books that I know I just can’t understand without living through a few times at different points in my own life.

The short list:

  • The Bible
  • St. Augustine’s Confessions
  • Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

I’m currently failing at thinking of the novels or anything fun.  My fear is that a personal favorite but less celebrated book (The Razor’s Edge or The Chosen or The Invention of Hugo Cabret, featured above) will melt away to nothing after a couple reads, or that a great and massive book will eat away time I could spend reading other books.

As I continue to work towards being more fun, are there books that you think would make life better if you read them once a year for, say, the next five years?