Twice each year, in February and September, we devote an issue to religious books. Good books, like good friends, add vision and zest to life; to live without them is like inhabiting a windowless house.

To my amazement my own library has grown to almost 10,000 volumes. Now crowding my office, they will enhance study and basement at home when shelves are ready.

This literary reserve is an incomparable treasure that I began searching out as a college student. Ransacking used book stores here and abroad for the best of the past, I annually added some of the best of the present also. During long years of seminary teaching, the routine included reading a new book weekly in my field.

Books sometimes come alive in unexpected ways. On my shelves Machen and Renan stand sentry a few feet apart, and Barth and Brunner and Bultmann, and Plato and Dewey and Augustine. Their ideas clash loud as thunder on the Potomac, but their personal silence is like judgment morning. This destiny is a sobering invitation to any author to meditate long, silent weeks on what needs most to be said to our time. A spigot that refuses to be turned off does not always make the profoundest contribution to the watershed of words.

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