Dear book lovers
What books still hold meaning for you? Or what works do you wish to share with others? Please tell us about them. Send submissions of 400 words or fewer to
Books I have loved
The Sunday Gazette-Mail
1001 Virginia St. E.
Charleston, WV 25301
Life-long interest in religion
I have had a life-long interest in religion, probably beginning with the book that was used in a college class called "Religions of the World." It struck me at the time that most religious teachings attempted to instruct practitioners to lead a good life. There seemed to be many commonalities among those various teachings. For example, the "Golden Rule" of treating others as we would be treated, was a common thread among most ideologies. My attitude then was that religion in general was a good thing, where humankind would learn to treat all people with respect, if not with universal brotherly love.
Quite a few years later, I was introduced to "The Essene Writings from Qumran" by a friend who was deeply interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls. I had to go to a rare book dealer to obtain my copy, and I have nearly worn it out over the years as I often picked it up to be reminded of how this devout band of Jews kept up a focused lifestyle and devotion to God that far exceeds anything we see today among religious practitioners. I, like others, wondered if perhaps the Essenes served as a kind of model for the early Christians.
It has been said that Jesus may have been an Essene, or that one or more of his followers were. The similarities of practice are remarkable, given the communal meals, communal baths, commonly held property, the rejection of personal possessions and wealth, and devout adherence to the principles and teachings. One of the profound similarities is the existence of a most-revered teacher, the "Teacher of Righteousness," who was the founder and revered leader of the cult, who was persecuted and put to death by a "wicked priest." It was forbidden to speak the name of this teacher, as it was to speak the name of God.
Much later in life, in a conversation with a friend who happens to be a Christian activist and scholar, it was suggested that I look into books by Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman to understand the Christian Bible and its origins. So I did, and I was rewarded with a much deeper understanding of where this remarkable material came from. Finally, I read "The Evolution of God" by Robert Wright, who leads us through the shaping of ideas about religion and God through the millennia.
I am grateful for my ongoing education in religion, and for the availability of these wonderful writings through my local public library. May we all continue our studies.
Reading difficulty did not dampen love of books
What an exciting "assignment." I am ashamed to admit that I am a poor reader. I am not blaming anyone, but I do wish my early elementary teacher and my parents had been more in tune to my reading deficit.
This "disability" has not kept me from loving books, and, I've even read a few. Although probably not considered great literature, here is the short list of books that "still hold meaning for me."
I read a book about Babe Ruth by an author I can't remember, 56 years ago. I finished it while riding the bus to school when I was in fifth grade. I read "Old Yeller" by Fred Gibson in fifth grade, and I finished this one while riding the bus to school also; I wept all the way.
John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" can bring tears to my eyes anytime I think about it.
A favorite with many, many quotable lines is George Orwell's "Animal Farm."