First Day: St. Athanasius (in a pear tree?)

As noted last year, the twelve days of Christmas are days AFTER Christmas. Counting differs among people, but I usually count day 1 as starting Christmas Day at sundown, so here we are on the first day of Christmas, St. Stephen’s day, the day Good King Wenceslas went out.

For some seasonal theological reading, I got myself St. Athanasius On the Incarnation, from the Popular Patristics Series. This particular translation was done in the mid-twentieth century by “a religious of C.S.M.V.” This particular female religious was a correspondent of C.S. Lewis, and he wrote the introduction to this translation. I must confess that so far I’ve only read the introduction, and feel I could profitably stop and just meditate on it for a while. I’ve read bits and pieces of Lewis’s introduction to OTI before. If you google something like “Lewis reading old books” you’ll find lots of blogs and other pages that quote extensively from this short essay. Just get the book and read the whole introduction. It rocks. Basically it is about the importance of reading old books as well as new books. This is a subject which was dear to C.S. Lewis’s heart and recurs throughout his educational and literary criticism essays and books. We should, Lewis suggests, read two old books for every one new one. It isn’t clear what Lewis defines as “old” but certainly it means something other than the best-seller list and current-year prize-winners. It may begin with the backlist of authors, but it certainly extends to authors who are dead, and have been dead for some time.

I’ve decided that I need to somehow define an “old” book so that I am trying to do a one old and one new book ratio in my reading for 2013. Note the word “try”. For a complete and better-thought-through set of 2013 Reading Resolutions, tune into this blog on the seventh day of Christmastide. Have you thought about your Reading Resolutions? Do tell.

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