Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Looking for the Right Word

A few months ago, Laredo, Texas reached "The End" of its only bookstore. The B. Dalton, a Barnes & Noble subsidiary, closed down on January 16, making Laredo (pop. 1/4 million) potentially the largest city nationwide without a single bookseller.

Laredo isn't the only city where bookstores are disappearing: in January, Oakland, California said goodbye to its Barnes & Noble, the only major bookstore in the city of 400,000.

In a New York art gallery, a new exhibit called Central Booking showcases what one article calls "strange relics of pre-Kindle civilization." The article continues, "It's perhaps fitting that physical books are finding homes in spaces typically reserved for aesthetic appraisal."

It's not just the rise of electronic books cutting into reading nationwide.

The American Library Association reported in 2009 that although library usage rose in 2008-2009, funding decreased across the nation, resulting in branch closings, staff reductions, and fewer new books. Similar problems confront school and college libraries.

What's happening to all the books?

More importantly, what's happening to all the people who read them?

On Wednesday, Kansas City's school board voted to close almost half the city's schools because of a budget deficit. "Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?" one attendee called out.

Open a newspaper (one that hasn't gone out of business), search the Internet, or talk to a stranger on the street, and you'll find it hard to avoid the signs of our culture's rejection of words.

"But we're surrounded by words!" you might say. Yes--and images--and sound bytes--most of them divorced from clear reasoning, historical context, rhetorical purpose, or even thoughtful consideration of their implications beyond use as marketing tools. American author Ernest Hemingway put it well: "All our words from loose using have lost their edge."

Yet, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Lord spoke creation into being using words. His first story to man in the Bible was how He used words to name creation and speak it into existence.

Our treatment of words has real consequences. As C.S. Lewis warned, "Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

At CC, our goal is to provide alternatives for families who want to reclaim a worldview founded on the Word. Our ability to learn and teach isn't beholden to a school system crumbling under government debts. We think hard about the consequences of ideas. We talk about a lot of books, and we uphold the correct use of words as a measure of man.

Our goal, simply put, is to train ourselves and our children to talk about eternity by returning words to the center of our conversations.

Won't you join us?

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