I love books. I love receiving books as gifts; I love ordering books online; I love the smell of a used bookshop; I love being surrounded with books in my study. They are friends; they are teachers; they are voices from the past; they are treasures. I assume most pastors feel the same way- at least pastors in the Reformed & Presbyterian tradition.
Recently I have been re-reading a biography of William Symington (19th century Reformed Presbyterian pastor) and I found this tongue-in-cheek section to describe my addiction to the written word:
"The love of books is with me a perfect mania. When I see anything particularly advertised, I immediately conceive a wish to have it- I persuade myself that really I ought to have it- and between the desire to have it and the reluctance to pay for it I am on the fidgets day and night. Then some demon or other whispers, 'Your credit is good, it is a good while to the month of May, before then you will have had your purse replenished with next half year's stipend- the temptation succeeds; and off goes a post letter for the desired article, all objections, financial as well as others, being unceremoniously sent about their business. In this way I have nearly ruined myself- and the worst of it is that I am nearly incorrigible. Unlike other sinners, misery does not lead me to repent- or if I do repent, I do not at all events reform. Can you tell me what is to become of me? The jail I suppose."
Will the bibliophile ever mend his ways? "Of making of books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:12)." Basically, no, the bibliophile is unable to be changed. The weariness of the flesh is to (gladly) continue through all his days. And that's okay- God chose to reveal himself in the written word; and his Son takes on the name Word (John 1). It seems that the addiction to the written word- bibliophelia- is a reflection of who God is. God is a God of words. And who doesn't love that?