Nothing warms the face more eloquently than the lick of flames devouring books on a cool Autumn evening. There are so many good candidates for the pit it would be impossible to list all the titles fit for such a deserving inferno.
I learned that the art of hurling tomes on the pyre is not only aesthetically and visually pleasing, but biblically sanctioned too! I found this little nugget in the Acts of the Apostles: Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:19)
I have only burned one book. It was by an author whom I knew and had a terrible resentment against. I remember lighting a signed copy of one of his books on my balcony, and then struggling to keep it aflame because of wind. All in all, a most frustrating affair – the book didn’t burn very well. It was a smoldering ruin that eventually blew itself out. The real pyrotechnics was consumed in the bitter hatred in my own soul, which my private book burning ceremony did not extinguish.
I did not know the Lord then, and would have fared much better if I had let the waters of forgiveness wash over me instead of the fires of enmity. (In the end, I made peace with that man and we went our separate ways. I never told him about my personal book auto de fe.)
This book burning from Acts is not only about burning physical books, but about forsaking one’s evil ways. For some a “book burning” could signify demolishing a television, or destroying a CD collection that consumes precious time and peace of mind. Remember, in the end our own walk on this earth will be judged, and much of what our toil will go on the great bonfire in the thereafter.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:12-15)
That’s right — God’s ultimate justice will see all things unprofitable burned in the fire along with other wood, stubble & hay. Many of us will grieve at that bonfire. But for the here and now, honestly, part of me would love to attend a book burning. Does anyone know when the next one will be?