Opaque Literary Works, Which Would Bug Most People

Do I read? Sure, I do. Not much fiction, though. To purloin and retool a phrase from the pen of Don van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart), I generally read “opaque literary works, which would bug most people.” Case(s) in point: rarely in recent months have I experienced the joy and excitement of feasting on anything approaching Oscar Cullmann’s Early Christian Worship nor have I surfeited on any book which approaches the sumptuous banquet which is Abbas Amanat’s Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844 – 1850! Oh, the memory of reading those masterpieces during the magical days of my youth makes me long for more, more, more!

I know, I know… Those titles alone have you perched upon the edge of your seat, clutching your mouse or other pointing device in anticipation. “Yes, yes, Bo, but what are you reading now? What rapurous prose are you feeding your soul this week?” And, more importantly you ask, “where can I get my hands on these ‘page turners’?” Well, I’ll tell you…

Let’s begin with light reading: the books on my nightstand, which carry me far away from the cares and troubles of the day. These are the books I read for pleasure before passing off into dreamland. First, there is one I read more often than any other, except my trusty Bible. It is an old pocket anthology of Robert Frost’s Poetry. I’ve read it from cover to cover, but I usually play “poetry roulette,” opening to a random verse. I think my favorite is Evening In A Sugar Orchard… Wait! No, my favorite is Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.

Another book I pick up over and over again is Design of the 20th Century. I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing more relaxing before bedtime than reading brief biographies of designers and viewing their signature works.

Also on the nightstand is The Elements of Graphic Design, a Christmas gift from anonymous middle daughter. It is probably the most readable and engaging book I’ve read on the subject – I’m nearly finished with it. In queue are Interaction of Color by Josef Albers (a gift from Sam) and Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus and Later by Johannes Itten (given to me by Emma). I have browsed them.

Now, let’s get down to the serious tomes. I’m preparing to teach through The Revelation or Apocalypse, so I’ve got a book open almost every spare minute. I have nearly completed Robert Mounce’s commentary in the NICNT series. It’s a modest 400+ pages and not overly technical. I read Joel Green’s How To Read Prophecy years ago, but just dashed through it again to brush up, along with some chapters from Bernard Ramm’s Protestant Biblical Interpretation. I also reacquainted myself with Millard Erickson’s classic undergrad textbook Contemporary Options In Eschatology. The list of “must reads” for the study of Revelation include:

Finally, I have read or will need to read parts of Walvoord’s The Millennial Kingdom, Pentecost’s Things to Come, A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Donald Guthrie’s New Testament Introduction, J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy and more!

It looks like it will be a Summer full of fun reading!


  1. Michele said:

    Yes, I’m excited that you’re doing so much homework for Revelation, but it still bugs me that you haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia. You are going to look like such a yahoo when the movie comes out and we’re all elbowing each other, winking with inner-circle knowing smiles.

    June 16, 2005
  2. Michele said:

    Yes, I’m excited that you’re doing so much homework for Revelation, but it still bugs me that you haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia. You are going to look like such a yahoo when the movie comes out and we’re all elbowing each other, winking with inner-circle knowing smiles.

    June 16, 2005
  3. Michele said:

    I thought that was such a cool post, I’d say it twice.

    June 16, 2005
  4. said:

    Dude, Nicholas Sparks is great liturature too!


    My literatry browsings are slightly different than yours.

    I read Clavin and Hobbes. I’m in such a stupor when I wake up that I can’t handle anything really whieghty.

    Nightly Reading:
    First, The Bible with maybe a little Francis Shaffer or CS Lewis mixed in. The books currently sitting on my nightstand are Half Magic by Edward Eager. Some history of art book (the title escapes me) and nothing puts me to sleep like Calvin and Hobbes.

    Weird, I wake to C&H and I go to sleep to C&H.

    June 16, 2005
  5. said:

    Levi, you have such good taste. Why do you love Frost? I think it’s weird that I gravitate towards things, which are distinctly “American” like Frost and Aaron Copland and Jazz… it’s definitely not a conscious thing . I’m sure The Chronicles of Narnia is/are great, but I’m probably more of a Calvin and Hobbs fan… or, Bone. I’ll never forget the time I dropped by and there was Suzanne, curled up reading Bone.

    June 16, 2005
  6. Mike Anderson said:

    Cool… I just re-watched one of my old favorite movies, Fahrenheit 451, this week… lets talk about BOOKS!

    Sounds like some great reading Bo! And I like how you balance it out with some good design stuff. But for some reason design books never find themselves on my nightstand.

    One writer I keep feeling tugged back to (and who is often on my night stand to help provide a good preface to my dreams) is George MacDonald. He wrote a lot of allegories, but I’m especially drawn to his sermons.

    One of his favorite themes are the scriptures about the love between the Father & Son and how this very central point and message of the universe trumps and sustains all else. I think the Lord gave MacDonald a real gift in commenting about those particular scriptures. And, oh… he’s very into the obedience part of that love being offered us. After reading a dose or two of that stuff I usually need to go harshly flagelate myself with God’s mercy.

    I’m not a fiction reader either, but good Christian allegories, lke the Chronicles of Narnia, are just plain… well… rapturous and the closest means, besides worship, I’ve found to be transfigured out this world for a little while. And Lewis is awesome at rendering good theology (and the lack of it) into 3D animated cause and effect thinking.

    Oh g!… got to go.

    June 18, 2005
  7. said:

    I’m starting to appreciate that kind of writing, which you speak of, Mike… like MacDonald. Something with some weight to it, not so much intellectually but introspectively — not in a navel contemplating, self-indulgent way, but getting to the depths of what I really think and believe. Then, move to the exterior to see if it’s really a part of me… does it bleed out into life.

    If I drag my feet long enough, I can watch The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, then it will be like my viewing of the Tolkein trilogy… they made a lot more sense the second time around.

    June 19, 2005
  8. mike Anderson said:

    Why does it hurt in a wierd, unique way when you try to get dirt out of your navel?

    I think your’e right, MacDonald doesn’t seem to write intellectually or present bits of knowlege into fortifiable ideas as Lewis or Shaeffer might or, rather, not in the same way or with the same purposes. When I’m done reading a bit of MacDonald I feel (and this is probably why I would read him before falling a sleep) less drawn to some conclusion as I am drawn to some other place – a place of wonder and glory – a Peaceful Lap.

    June 20, 2005
  9. Levi–you should have those mystery books I sent you home with at Paul’s graduation BBQ on your nightstand, OH but wait! No…because you forgot them at Mary and George’s house. *tsk*
    After all the trouble I went through to remember to give them to you, and you were so excited. Shame shame. I know your name.

    June 20, 2005

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