Saturday, 15 September 2007

Collecting books? A note from Karl Barth

Kurt Johanson kindly sent me a copy of his delightful new volume, The Word in This World: Two Sermons by Karl Barth. And he included a facsimile of an inscription which Barth wrote in Klaus Bockmuehl’s copy of Against the Stream, back in 1954.

It’s such a nice inscription that I thought I’d reproduce it here – a timely reminder to all of us who like collecting books!

Meaning of life?
Collecting books? No, read them!
Reading them? No, think about!
Thinking about? No, do something for God and for your neighbour!
—Karl Barth, Basle, 2.11.1954

11 Comments:

Pastor David said...

What a wonderful reminder for those of us who are prone to indulging our inner bibliophile.

D.W. Congdon said...

That's more convicting for me than any sermon I've heard.

meredith said...

That's great! A real challenge, but makes me feel better about all the books I haven't read or thought about!

byron smith said...

But collecting them is so much fun, and surely simply being the presence of many books makes you smarter?

svendster said...

I forget it now but I know there's a name for the paradox of a flea that jumps eternally half the way to a point. With each jump a sort of progress is certainly being made, yet it never reaches the destination.

I sometimes feel that way about my books. With each new acquisition I'm theoretically and practically one step closer to attaining knowledge, but the fact that I rarely touch much less read most of them makes one feel like the proverbial flea as opposed to a seeker of knowledge.

Brian said...

I now own the book with this inscription, though I didn't know it was originally inscribed to Bockmuehl. I'd like to know more about it. How do you know it was originally written to Bockmuehl? Thanks. I'd appreciate any info. you had on it.
Brian Williams
bwilliams@cpls.org

Ben Myers said...

Hi Brian. After some correspondence with Markus Bockmuehl, I discovered that this inscription wasn't in fact made out to Klaus Bockmuehl. Sorry for the confusion...

Anonymous said...

Ben, I didn't think it was written to Klaus. I imagine your friend got it from the Regent College publishing guys, for whom I photocopied the inscription when I was a student there. But thanks for following up. Brian Williams

Ben Myers said...

Hi Brian. After some correspondence with Markus Bockmuehl, I discovered that this inscription wasn't in fact made out to Klaus Bockmuehl. Sorry for the confusion...

Brian said...

I now own the book with this inscription, though I didn't know it was originally inscribed to Bockmuehl. I'd like to know more about it. How do you know it was originally written to Bockmuehl? Thanks. I'd appreciate any info. you had on it.
Brian Williams
bwilliams@cpls.org

Anonymous said...

Ben, I didn't think it was written to Klaus. I imagine your friend got it from the Regent College publishing guys, for whom I photocopied the inscription when I was a student there. But thanks for following up. Brian Williams

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