As I slowly cull my office library, i make trips to McKay's, then bring home a box at a time.
The commentaries on one shelf, the journals stacked vertically next to them. Philosophy of religion and theory and method, Christianity, and Judaism each get their own stack. Krishna, Islam, and Chinese religion get combined.
Lexicons, grammars, and Bibles join church law on the reference shelf.
Theology, Biblical studies, ethics, Christian history are jumbled because i still have trouble ironing out their intersections. Wesleyan studies gets one big interdisciplinary stack.
Philosophy gets its whole own shelf (thanks Columbia College core curriculum. Contemporary Civilization is still changing my life 14 years later). No fewer than three copies of the red Marx-Engels reader.
Literature also gets a shelf. Two copies of "Crime and Punishment," but i can't bear to part with either one.
Some works are very difficult to place. Where does the Kierkegaard go!? I spent at least three hours pondering this the other night.
As I lovingly place each book, I often thumb through and find my notes - my handwriting growing and changing over the last 20 years. That time when i made a conscious decision that I was going to change the style of my "f." Those heady times when I first made a connection and it felt so fresh and almost dangerous, like maybe I was the only one who ever had this idea.
I also think of all the different ways I can combine these voices and messages. Interesting courses I may one day have the privilege to teach. Perhaps combining "The Formation of a Persecuting Society" with "The Sacred Canopy" and "The First Urban Christians" to talk about the fine lines of schism and heresy and how it all gets constituted. Perhaps even adding that to something standard like "Wesley and the People Called Methodists," and then adding in "Visionary Women," to talk about Wesleyanism as a schismatic movement!?
I get so excited. It feels like I'm formulating a new cocktail or testing a new recipe and I just know that people are going to love it, and be challenged by it.
These books have followed me around for a generation. They have seen me fall in love, get married, have two babies, get divorced, fall in love again. Have my heart broken, both by men and by the world. Helped me put those heart pieces back together, stronger and more beautiful. I have a lot of best friends, but perhaps these books and ideas are my closest ones.