Unheard Melodies

Why do people want to read faster? Not least because life is short: “So many books, so little time,” as the saying goes. We don’t want to miss something special, especially if we miss it because we simply run out of years. This is understandable, and when such thoughts pass through my mind I can feel a brief rush of panic. But— to anticipate a point to be treated later— it’s rather odd that I tend not to feel the same panic at the thought of not having time to reread books that I already love, even though I know that such rereading will surely be pleasurable. The possible pleasure of an unread book weighs more heavily on me than the sure pleasure of one I already know. “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter.”

Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, pg. 70-71

Some of us Most of us need to read more than we do. Yet Jacobs warns us with the distinction between reading for the pleasure of it and reading merely to have read. Those massive lists of BOOKS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE can actually stifle our appreciation for good books. We’re too busy trying to get to the next volume.

“Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written,” wrote Thoreau, and the statement is perfect because it lets you skim the chaff. (Be warned, ye Twitter users, taking this dictum to heart will inoculate you against that beloved platform of controversy and snark.)

So go a little slower. My parents would occasionally remind me: “slow down, and chew your food— it isn’t going anywhere!”

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
~Tolkien 

Dear Reader, I launched this blog five years ago last month. When I started The Life of Things, Rachel and I had four of our five kids. I was a carpenter by day and student of theology by night.

I needed a place to share my love for the Bible and my love for reading. At the time, I didn’t say things that way. I talked about ‘The Great Books’, Western Civ., and the ‘Western Canon’. I was a carpenter who caught the learning bug, and I wanted to share things with the world.

I finished studying for a theological degree and started blogging about Christianity and Culture. I wanted to see how Christians could benefit themselves and their surrounding culture by reading their Bibles with more knowledge and the great literature of the west with more heart.

I’m thankful I’ve never lacked for good friends willing to talk with me about these things: Ole’ Abe, Adam, Joshua, Nathan J., Chris, Thomas, and Nathan F, and Matt Bulman, who has worked the angles here on this blog.

Following my ordination in 2017, I wanted to write for new reasons. I wanted The Life of Things to feature a conversation, a picture of the many sides of evangelicalism making its way through the sea of discipleship and culture. At the same time, I wanted to write more about my own life. I still plan to continue the project that I and others started at The Life of Things, but I wanted to share another project that I’ve been working on. 

A few months ago (sorry for hiatus), I began working on another blog to be able to write from my perspective as a husband, father, and pastor. Dear reader, would you mind checking out my new site, bdlocklear.com? Take a moment to subscribe, there won’t be any cross posting from this site. To give you a feel for what I aim to do on this new blog, I’ve copied the following from my ‘About’ page below:

I’m an assistant pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston Salem, NC. I’ve been married for fourteen years and I have five children. My writing here reflects my calling as a husband, father, and pastor.

As with my marriage and parenting, my pastoral work came with a learning curve. I initially understood pastoral work to look something like the life of a monk- hidden away for the labors of reading, writing, and preaching. I wasn’t prepared for the need to become a generalist, a practitioner of the everyday. Greek grammar and old books (as important as they are) need to be coupled with small talk, prayer, and life together with the congregation.

Pastors are more like shepherds than church CEOs. This blog reflects my effort to be an observer- to ask how we’re handling ordinary life and finding ourselves being formed into the people God intends us to be. Many of us complain today that our mental lives are distracted and shapeless. I’m writing here to pause, to observe, and to pay attention to how we’re making our way through the Babylon that is our American culture.

I’m learning that the pastoral calling is often a haphazard and messy process. Eugene Peterson once shared an anecdote about William Faulkner in his memoir, The Pastor:

William Faulkner was once asked how he went about writing a book. His answer: “It’s like building a chicken coop in a high wind. You grab any board or shingle flying by or loose on the ground and nail it down fast.

Like becoming a pastor.

Hope to see you there. The peace of the Lord,

Bobby Locklear

Oh, this old thing?

Words are immensely seductive, in ways we don’t often recognize. Their power can perhaps most clearly be seen in young children, who become fascinated by new words and look for every possible opportunity to use them. Now, in fact, adults are no different in this respect: we just have learned to do a better job than our younger counterparts of obscuring our fascination, of pretending that a phrase brand new to us has been part of our word hoard forever. Oh, this old thing? But we turn the shiny new phrases over and over in our minds, as a miser fondles the coins in his pockets.


~Alan Jacobs, How to Think, page 90.

Lewis on Growing Up

[I]f we are to use the words childish or infantile as terms of disapproval, we must make sure that they refer only to those characteristics of childhood which we become better and happier by outgrowing; not to those which every sane man would keep if he could and which some are fortunate for keeping.

On the bodily level this is sufficiently obvious. We are glad to have outgrown the muscular weakness of childhood; but we envy those who retain its energy, its well-thatched scalp, its easily won sleeps, and its power of rapid recuperation. But surely the same is true on another level? The sooner we cease to be as fickle, as boastful, as jealous, as cruel, as ignorant, and as easily frightened as most children are, the better for us and for our neighbours.

But who in his senses would not keep, if he could, that tireless curiosity, that intensity of imagination, that facility of suspending disbelief, that unspoiled appetite, that readiness to wonder, to pity, and to admire? The process of growing up is to be valued for what we gain, not for what we lose. Not to acquire a taste for the realistic is childish in the bad sense; to have lost the taste for marvels and adventures is no more a matter for congratulation than losing our teeth, our hair, our palate, and finally, our hopes. Why do we hear so much about the defects of immaturity and so little about those of senility?

C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism