Tag Archives: book

A Place to Study!

Cuddesdon Library

Cuddesdon Library

‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ 2Timothy 3:14-17

I LOVE LIBRARIES!… Shh….. Sorry, I think I said that a bit loud! I’ve mentioned before about how much I love books – so a room (or rooms) that are stacked from floor to ceiling with them is equally as exciting. There’s that unique smell of printed paper and leather; the burnished gold lettering on some of the oldest books and the fact that the books on the top shelves, whose titles you can’t quite make out, could be reached by climbing up the librarian’s special step ladder!

A cosy study corner

A cosy study corner

Added to all that is the fact that I get to set up my own little workspace right there in the room itself – I have officially died and gone to bibliotheque heaven!

Knowing that I simply have to walk over and pick the book I need off of the shelf makes studying so much easier – it’s all there at my fingertips, although to be honest it wasn’t that easy the first time……I went in, clutching my list of suggested books and tried to find out where they might be.  I was quite familiar with the Dewey system that most libraries use, but then this system covers vast ranges of topics.

Here, it is more specialised – broken down into various religious and theological categories. Each of these categories is labelled A-Z and then further broken down into even more specific grouping before being alphabetised by author. No wonder I was confused. Added to that is the fact that Cuddesdon library is also not just in one room, or indeed several rooms, but is also on various levels – involving walking along corridors and climbing different flights of stairs!

Cuddesdon library skylight

Cuddesdon library skylight

But when you got this as one of the skylights it doesn’t seem such a problem!

Thank goodness for the librarian whose kindness and patience got me started and pointed in the right direction, because no doubt in the future this will become a haven into which I can tuck myself away as essay deadlines loom.

What I am very much aware of is just how lucky I am to be in this situation and I certainly don’t want to take it for granted. There are many millions of children and adults around the world who not only don’t have access to libraries, but who don’t even have the facilities or the option to an education.

As Malala Yousafzai pointed out in her speech to the United Nations, books and pens are the most powerful weapons we can equip people with, they are the basic tools of education that can begin to eradicate poverty and provide opportunities for better job prospects and life goals.

Perhaps I will do well to remember that, especially when I’m feeling a little stressed and anxious about how I’m doing, and instead look to the fact that part of what my training will be about doing whatever is in my power to seek relative fairness and social justice for those in need. Therefore, when I stop for a moment and glance out of the window it will be a good reminder not to be complacent, because there’s a whole other world out there beyond the tranquil fields, hungry for knowledge and education as well

Tranquil views from Cuddesdon library

Tranquil views from Cuddesdon library


Books, books, books

 “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”  ― Jorge Luis Borges

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges 

I am sat here with a book list in front of me. It’s a fairly long list that was sent to me by the college. Not a list of the books that will be needed for the first term, instead a suggested pre- course reading list.

Of course, as is explained in the accompanying letter, you are not expected to read every single one, but for those of us who may never have undertaken or have been out of formal higher education for a long time it can help to ease us into the way of things to come… On the other hand it’s like a gauntlet has been thrown down!

The thing is I love books – I love the look of them, the feel of them, the smell of them. For me, entering a bookshop like Waterstones* is like letting Augustus Gloop loose in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory! A well stocked library of books can be a work of art and a chance to scour the shelves can reveal the most unusual titles and topics. Even when a visit to the local bibliothèque is not possible, all I can say is thank goodness for Amazon’s penny booksellers!

There will, of course, be many different sorts of books that will need to be read and studied but one that will stay at the heart of all this literature will be the Bible. We will be required to perform exegesis (drawing the meaning out of a text) and hermeneutics (the science of interpretation) all without a safety net!

One might wonder how we are still trying to understand what the Bible is all about – after all theologians have spent thousands of years talking and arguing about it. This book, or more accurately 66 books in one volume, has led to the exile, to the persecution, even to the political execution of those who have strived to explain what it’s really saying to us

For some the very act of trying to make it available to a wider audience, to allow them to discover its meaning for themselves, has been  a selfless act of courage and determination. In the early 16th  century William Tyndale paid with his life in order to fulfil his mission statement that, “If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust”, referring to the Pope and clergy of his time, many of whom were probably not even skilled enough to read their own Latin bibles,  and which set him on translating the Bible into English and thus allowing ordinary men and women to be able to ask, ‘What does that mean?”

There are now over 50 different English translations of the bible and a quick count around the house reveals that I have a least a dozen of them. So we now have a choice of reading God’s word in a way that is in tune with our own ‘linguistic ear’

Hopefully, most people will hear or read a least a passage of the bible each day, whether in formal worship or daily devotions. If not there is always a chance to do so during the weekly church service. In the Church of England the lectionary runs on a three year cycle which is intended to cover a very large proportion of the bible, although not all as some people believe

What amazes me, as someone who has to prepare talks or sermons, is that after a few years you find the passages repeating themselves and there is always some concern that you won’t find anything different to say about them. What you actually find happening is that the passage can speak to you afresh and become appropriate to the present circumstances of both yourself and your congregations.

Perhaps then there is plenty more time and reason for us to continue studying God’s word. So if you see me with my nose in a book this summer it probably won’t be the latest Robert Galbraith novel but something much more thrilling!

*Other bookshops are available