becoming drunk from reading

Great literature never turns a bitter tongue but taunts the mind with its rich bouquet of thought, leaving the soul well and truly drunk from its sweet liqueur. What disappoints is how rare the occasion when the pages of aging greatness are laid bare, to be lovingly consumed, for fortune awaits those who would dare to travel among such leafy fodder, to discover oft forgotten truths buried there.

Great Literature

Great Literature

Great literature grants such pleasure without surcease to those who would wander through the pages first penned by minds so great. What surely fascinates is to discover what it was that tortured them with those great thoughts; what sweet compulsion propelled their limbs to write what their minds conceived, and to leave so great a legacy for those yet born.

What surprises is the serendipitous discovery of a marvelous read, written long before, which startles the mind with its prescience of what lies before us now. Even such a thought consists of nothing new for it rests upon the page of an ancient manuscript, written twenty-three centuries before us now. “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, ‘See, this is new!’ has already existed in the ages that preceded us.”[1]

Sitting quietly upon a shelf, great literature never demands attention, even as the dust accumulates upon a cover seldom turned. Such was the fate of The Abolition of Man written by C. S. Lewis and first published in 1943. Subtitled “Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools” it is a seminal work, originally delivered as a series of three lectures at King’s College, Newcastle in defense of objective value and natural law with a stern admonishment to those who would propose or encourage the elimination or debunking of those things.

This marvelous work had kept silent watch behind my shoulder for a very long time unread and admittedly unappreciated until my wandering eye happened upon it. Curious that I had never broke open its pages I picked it up and became quite inebriated with Lewis’ prose. Mind you, this was published more than seventy years ago, so just how apropos could it be with respect to our current abjectivity?

Lewis wrote: “Man’s conquest of nature is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science. …What we call Man’s power” (over nature) “is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by.” Lewis used three examples: the airplane, the radio and the contraceptive to argue that “In a civilized community…anyone who can pay for them may use these things. But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature. If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man. Any or all of the three things … can be withheld from some men by other men…From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.


[1] Eccl 1:9-10.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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