Sunday, June 11, 2006

I brought home 13 boxes of books. . . :-D

I'm back from my trip to Indiana! It was a fun, relaxing week with Mother Dear and Grandparents Dear. I made some good headway in my reading and also in my hand-quilting project. We also got to see a new period film, courtesy of one of my mom's sisters. I'd highly recommend North & South, adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's novel. It has some similarities to Pride and Prejudice and Wives and Daughters, which are two of my favorite period films (and two of my favorite classic novels).

Mother Dear and I helped my grandmother to do assorted organizing, and cleaning and the biggest project was going through my grandfather's library. He's given the okay for it to be cleared and everything tossed or given away. Well, this bibliophile didn't want to see so many fine books disappear, so she volunteered to "dispose" of many herself :). No one else in the family expressed much interest in searching through Granddad's collection for some "keepers," so I pretty much had free reign on an enormous number of books.

My grandfather was a Presbyterian pastor for over 40 years, so most of the books were theological (*grin*), with some classic literature and poetry thrown into the mix. The theology books ranged from pretty conservative to pretty liberal, so they were of varying interest to me. Almost all the books were hardbound, many quite old, some even pre-1850. I found a number of books on various Bible topics like baptism, communion, the beatitudes, etc., as well as many overviews of the New Testament, studies on Paul, analyses of the work of Christ, some Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. I also found a number of old books of classic poetry and literature. Lots of good books to bring home :). Here are a few highlights of my findings:

Specific books I had been looking for, and happened to find:

The original Book of Common Prayer (before the marriage vows were modernized)
Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (two volume, leather-bound copy)
Letters to Karen, by Charlie W. Shedd
Christianity and Liberalism, by J. Gresham Machen
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Greek New Testament
The Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
The Old Testament in Hebrew

Some of my favorite finds:

Hardbound, embellished copy of Tennyson's poetry
Hardbound, 2-volume set of John Knox's History of the Reformation in Scotland
Set of hardbound Sunday School books (made before curriculum was reduced to handouts and cartoon drawings. . . )
An 1842 edition of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, with the WCF (with scripture proofs), the catechisms, and directory for worship
An 1857 edition of A Book of Public Prayer, compiled from the Authorized Formularies of Worship of the Presbyterian Church, as prepared by the Reformers Calvin, Knox, Bucer, and Others (how's that for a lengthy title).
The Ruling Elder, Near to the Heart of God, and The Foreign Missionary Enterprise and its Sincere Critics, by Cleland McAfee (my great-great-grandfather and writer of the hymn Near to the Heart of God)
Complete set of William Barclay's NT commentaries (those should be interesting, as I've heard varied reports on his theology)
The Works of Josephus (early church father), published in 1842, in 2 volumes
History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, by W.M. Hetherington

Most interesting find:

Bible Defence of Slavery by Jossiah Priest

This was a book published in 1852 that defended the American practice of slavery by race. Basically the entire book explains why blacks are inferior to whites, twisting scripture to "prove" this assertion. A few excerpts from the table of content:
Evidences that the Supreme Being puts a higher estimate on white than on
black. . . insensibilities of the negroes to bodily pain. . . meanness of the
negro spirit. . . negroes' brains found to be less in weight and measure than
the white man's. . . difference of negro sensibilities from that of the whites,
on being separated from wives and children, proven by facts. . . etc.

General slavery (which I still hate, but is an entirely different matter) is one thing, but slavery based on race is quite another issue! We are all One Blood. I'm definitely going to have to read the book, but I'm going to be writhing with anger while I read it!

Disclaimer: My grandparents did not own the book because they subscribe to the views presented. Far from it, just to clarify :).

Anyway, those are a few highlights from my fun findings from my adventures last week :). Unfortunately I "only" have two (decent-sized) bookcases in my bedroom, so the vast majority of the books remain boxed-up, along with other, previous purchases. My dream has always been to someday have a large room in my future (hypothetical) house devoted entirely to books. Most girls, when they watch Disney's Beauty and the Beast, probably are enchanted by the enormous castle, or Belle's beautiful gowns, or the singing dishes. I was captivated by the library! Someday I'd like to have a library like that, with built-in bookshelves all-round :).

I can dream, can't I?


Jessie said...

I had tripped over to Ashely's site to see her new engagement pictures, and by the time I got back you had this new post up! How's that for efficient??

You're great-great-grandfather was Cleland McAfee? Wow! That's a pretty neat claim to fame! (And here's mine (I can be childish occasionally, can't I?) My great-great-great-great-etc. grandfather was Oliver Wolcott, signer of the Declaration of Independence from Connecticut (okay- yes, I do have some Yankee in me!!). He's somewhere in the front middle section of the seated men in this picture. Sorry. Just had to share : ) )

What great books to have found! I love that. And you go right ahead and keep on dreaming about your library. I still dream about my hypothetical farm...

Jessie said...

I think Mr. Oliver's the fifth man from the right on the bottom row of seated men. With the darker hair and prominent nose. Here's a better picture. I'll have to ask my aunt to look through the records before I could be 100% sure on that, but I'm close as it is : )
Oh, and since he's in that picture, he is therefore on the back of the $2 bill. I just think that's so neat!

But your great-great-grandfather's name is in almost every Christian hymnal and his song is sung at many, many churches across the nation! That's pretty special! Famous relatives are fun, aren't they?

Anna Naomi said...

Glad you're back! Sounds like you had a good time! :-)

John Dekker said...

There's a room in my Mum's house entirely devoted to my books! :)

Congratulations, Susan! It sounds like you stumbled on a gold mine. Knox's History sounds good - I'd like to read it one day.

What is the modernisation in the BCP to which you refer? Leaving out "and obey"? Of course, I'm sure your copy isn't the original - I'd be guessing it's the 1662 version. ;)

Oh, and Josephus was not an early Church Father - he wasn't even a Christian. But his history is really important, because it demonstrates the fulfillment of prophecies that Jesus made.

The Bible Defence of Slavery does sound rather interesting. Of course, the toc shows that he's not using the Bible at all - he's only arguing from nature. Which juest goes to show that while we believe in General Revelation, one must be careful with arguments from science.

Anyway, great post!

Anonymous said...

What great finds. I have borrowed an interlinear bible NT from church, it's most interesting. Also, I love Animal Farm by George Orwell. As a Christian, I find it so true! In so much as, anything man tries to do to make the world a fairer and better place, in his own strength, will always fail because of man's inherent selfishness and sinfulness. And ooo The Works of Josephus - you lucky girl.

Anonymous said...

p.s. there is some disagreement as to whether Josephus did admit that Jesus was the Christ or not. Historians regularly had handbags-at-dawn duels over the issue. He is a great writer to study because of his writings about the Jewish and Roman events :o) If you lived nearer I'd be over to borrow your copy ;o)

Ashley said...

If I'd known you were looking for "Brave New World" I'd have given you my copy! We studied that book in my "Foundations of Christian Thought" class in college. :-) Sounds like you discovered quite a few treasures there - how exciting!! We always had tons and tons of bookcases full of books when I was growing up, but we had to leave most of it in Peru. :-( I am trying to build up my collection again! I've always wanted a room of my house entirely devoted to being a "library". Maybe a roaring fireplace, with a nice kitty on the rug in front... One of my 26 cats, of course.

BTW, I'm glad someone mentioned Josephus, because I didn't think he was necessarily a Christian. Of course, far be it from me to disagree with you about anything relating to church history. :-)

Jessica said...

YAY...Susan is back! It sounds like you had a good week...and what finds! Your books sound very interesting...and such old ones too. And I can empathize with your dream of a library like Belle's...though I don't know how that would work with my goal to read all the books I own! Well, I'm glad you're back and hopefully things go well with trying to find a place for all your "new" books!

Susan said...


That is so neat that one of your ancestors is in such a famous painting :). I think you win the claim-to-fame! Isn't it neat to study our ancestors? One of my friend's family did a lot of research to trace their family tree way back, and they found out they had a lot of English royalty in their past, and some of the first Pilgrims. Oh, and Lady Godiva. That was amusing ;).


Yes, I was primarily referring to the BCP's omission of "obey", but also to other portions, such as the marriage bans. I wanted a copy of the originals just like they were read in Jane Austen's day :). Oh, and it definitely wasn't an original edition, I just meant original wording. There is no copyright on my copy, so I don't know how old it is, but definitely not 1662(!).

I'm happy to sit corrected on Josephus (and thanks for the second, Ashley). I really know nothing about him except that his writings are included in the volumes of The Early Church Fathers that Father Dear has - which is why I called him such.

Oh, and some of the arguments for negro slavery in the book do come from the Bible (obviously distorted), but most are from nature. It's really rather hard to make an argument against general slavery with the Bible, actually (as I've discovered), but making a racial argument for it is ridiculous.


You keep making me jealous by mentioning all the Christian worldview-type classes you got to take in college *fake glare* It's just as well that I have my own copy (though thanks for the thought) so I can mark it up :). I put Huxley's book (and Orwell's) on my "to-read" list after reading Kenneth Myers' contrast of them in All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes. Very interesting.

How sad that you had to leave so many books in Peru. *sniff* And yes, a fire place is a nice touch to the picture of my (hypothetical) future library :). You meant 26 kids, not cats, right? ;)

Deb said...

Wow, Susan! You were definitely in heaven on earth finding all those neat books, huh? Glad you had a good time and a safe trip home.

Becky Miller said...

A library like that is part of my dream house, too! My husband and I (with our individual book collections we brought into marriage and the ones we have collected in three years of marriage) have FIVE full size book cases, and more books than that in stacks!

Kimi Harris said...

What an exciting opportunity! I would love to be able to go through someone's library for gems to keep! Glad you found some keepers!

John Dekker said...

Becky: with our individual book collections we brought into marriage and the ones we have collected in three years of marriage

So - have you combined them?

Anne Fadiman has written a fascinating essay called Marrying Libraries.

Oh, and Susan - I wasn't talking about original original editions of the Book of Common Prayer, but Cranmer wrote it in 1549 (under Edward VI) and revised it in 1552 and again in 1559 (under Elizabeth I). The 1662 book, however, is from the time of Charles II.

Ashley said...

Well I was actually meaning GIVE you my copy of the book, because although it's interesting, I didn't care for it too much!

We took a lot of interesting classes at Taylor. :-) I wish you were close enough to a good Christian University that you could take a couple of their classes! I'm sure there are other ways to get them, though. In my "Foundations" class we read The Stranger, Brave New World, Siddhartha, and Out of the Silent Planet, and we watched the movie, Gattaca. Very interesting, and I enjoyed the chance to discuss all of them.

BTW, my family ancestors have been traced back to the Mayflower. I am also related (by marriage) to William Penn.

une_fille_d'Ève said...

Hey, well I got you all beat! I'm related to this really cool guy who survived a huge world wide flood and spent a lot of time with animals on a huge boat! And he was really old.

*glares at Sister Dear* You didn't mention the awesome hardback two volume set of all the Chronicles of Narnia! And my book of French and English poems! I must attribute that to an oversight on your part. Rest assured; your forthcoming apology will be accepted, as long as it is heart-felt.

Sherrin said...

I am surprised they were getting rid of your grandfather's library! Doug Phillips always seems to be writing about building libraries for future generations. I am glad that some of your grandfather's books have been passed onto you. Do you know Greek and Hebrew?! Your list sure makes you seem very well educated and intelligent :).

I agree with you that it is hard to make a general argument against slavery from scripture (various passages in the New Testmanent sure put a spanner in the works!), and also that it is much easier to make an argument against it when it is racially based. Racism makes me very mad, and I probably couldn't read "Bible Defence of Slavery" for that reason! I often want to read books on topics that make me upset or mad, but always feel a bit scared of doing so!

Susan said...

I guess a lot of other people are interested in book collecting too.

I found your link to marrying libraries highly amusing, John, btw :).

So, you're Quaker, Ashley? Yeah, you seem to fit that mold. You know, the drab clothing, silent during meetings, etc. . . ;)

Oh, yeah, Hannah? Well I sure have you beat! I'm related to an even cooler guy who lived 365 years (which was not much for his time), but then he didn't die! Instead he walked with God and was no more. How's that for cool? ;)

Sherrin, I love the idea of building libraries for future generations! Since no one else in the family was interested in all the books, I am so thankful that I now have a number of my grandfather's books, as well as many of my great-grandmother's, etc. Family legacies are so wonderful!

I know absolutely no Hebrew, just to clarify. Hannah and I are attempting a bit of Greek this summer. I know the alphabet (which was really easy to learn, as I had used all but one character before in math, physics, and statistics courses) and we've gone through about 5 short lessons on the basics. We'll see how it progresses :).

John Dekker said...

All but one? Which one was missing, I wonder. η?

Susan said...

Capital xi. The one with the brackets on top and bottom and a bowtie in the middle, for a highly un-technical way to describe it :). A bowtie sandwich!

Mrs.B. said...

YAY Susan is back!!!

I went to public school and 'Brave New World' was required reading. It was EXTREMELY....strange....that's all I remember about it.

It sounds like you found some great treasures! Good for you.

I just love the smell of old books...weird, I know! (o:


Ashley said...

Sorry I meant to comment on this earlier but I forgot... The 26 kids belong to you, Susan, you keep forgetting! Or perhaps 23 of them will be yours... and the other 3 mine. :-) Either way, they each get a cat to play with when they come over.

Jessie said...

Hey Hannah!!
I'm related to that guy too- I just can't remember his name... I guess that makes us cousins of some sort! I wonder I haven't seen you at the Diluvian Family Reunions?
: )

helen said...

Wow! Congratulations and happy reading on all those books!