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Edgar Allan Poe on the Nature of Man

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December 1, 2014 by Bookworm

Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart — one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? – from “The Black Cat” (which is well worth reading if you never have).

This inward inclination Poe calls the spirit of PERVERSENESS – Christian theologians call it total depravity.  In fact, Poe here sounds much like Paul in Romans 7:7-11, does he not?


On Loving Books, Particularly Old Books

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November 29, 2014 by Bookworm

Thanks for dropping by The Diet of Bookworms!  We’re all about great books, particularly books whose greatness has been demonstrated over the course of history.

The bookworms running this podcast (and site) are devotees of C.S. Lewis and we believe what he said about Christian books in his introduction to Athanasius’ On the Incarnation (the full text of which you can find here) really applies even more broadly.

Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. Remarks which seem to you very ordinary will produce laughter or irritation and you will not see why—the reason, of course, being that the earlier stages of the conversation have given them a special point. In the same way sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed at some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (“mere Christianity” as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

So here is to good books, especially those which have stood the test of time!  We hope you’ll join us in a steady diet of those kind.