I don’t want to be, but I think I’ve been stuck in what C.S. Lewis calls “chronological snobbery.”
I pick up an old book—most recently, Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics—and I can’t really read it without my fingers crossed. I can never shake the suspicion that the science of whatever it is I’m reading about has progressed so far by now that I am wasting my time on old arguments.
I do not feel this way when reading Jonathan Edwards—or C.S. Lewis, for that matter. And I know in my head and heart that the latest book isn’t necessarily the best book. I want to escape the you’ve-got-to-read-this culture of the blogosphere—but I don’t want to, either. It’s so, well, beguiling. To be up on things is to have power other’s don’t. But, then again, the new books I have read recently have been genuinely helpful and edifying. And they speak my language.
Lewis said that he read old books on a regular basis in order to breathe the air of a different century, ventilating his own.
I need God’s wisdom to know what to read and when. He knows best what I need.