Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Bat Cave of Evangelicalism

Forgive me while I gush.  A few weeks ago, i joined a co-worker in Louisville to interview Al Mohler for a new video based marriage conference FamilyLife is producing.  While there we had the chance to visit Dr. Mohler’s personal library in the basement of his home (what Ligon Duncan refers to as “the bat cave of evangelicalism”).

His personal librarian (yes, that’s what I said) gave the current volume count at 40,550 volumes, though he hedged with the disclaimer that “hundreds of books come in a month.”

 His Desk (on the right side of the picture)

His Churchill “section” (pic on right) contained over four hundred books by or about the man.  And the collectibles were everywhere.  In one corner was a pile of leather briefcases “to give to friends.”  On a desk were dozens of fountain pens.  Model ships, airplanes and busts protruded from every corner and were perilously perched on every possible ledge.  It was glorious and dangerous at the same time. 

Mohler consumes books like a five year-old eats candy on Halloween.  I asked about his reading schedule - he settles into his favorite reading chair around 11 PM or midnight [see pic of his 'current reading’ stack on left] and reads till 4 or 5 AM, then sleeps till 9 or 10 before heading to the office.  How many books a night does he read?  “Usually 3 or so.”  Not from 3 books - but 3 from start to finish.  You can read Mohler’s comments on his reading habits here.

One of his reading suggestions I’ve followed is to find an author you enjoy and read everything you can that they have written.  One of those authors for me has been David McCullough, who says, “you are what you read” (his bio on Truman is my favorite of his works).  McCullough is a throwback author who still uses a typewriter, partly because he knows he needs to “go more slowly” (read this interview about his typewriter here).  If one of the greatest writers of our time (one journalist said “he is incapable of writing an incorrect sentence") needs to go more slowly, let all others take heed!

Mohler also asserts that “reading will save your life.”  This proved true on one of my all time favorite FamilyLife Today radio interviews where Mark Hamby, founder and director of Lamplighter publishing tells his journey from not reading a single book in high school to being addicted to books.  The story is both entertaining and inspiring, and each re-airing on FamilyLife Today produces a run on Lamplighter books, one of which was Ronald Reagan’s favorite book, That Printer of Udell’sReagan read the book as a young boy, and when he put it down, he said “I want to be like that man.”  That’s what a great book does; inspires you to want to live differently.  Those are hard to find, but those are the ones that are worth reading.  This week I read A Confederacy of Dunces.  It was entertaining, well written, with an intriguing plot-line, but not inspiring.  Nothing about the story made me want to emulate anyone.  None of the characters were redeemable - even at the end - when someone usually comes out changed and motivated to live differently, none had changed.  Their situations had, and they had largely stumbled into new situations, but their inner character had not changed.

This is contra every book I have read about Teddy Roosevelt.  Almost everything about his life inspires me to want to live differently and to want to read more about him!

Al Mohler - Study Tour from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Tony Walker said...

Any pic of the fountain pens