From my forthcoming book on history, Making Connections: Discovering the Riches of the Past:
According to neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, we are hardwired (he thinks due to evolution, I think due to God) to name our world. Not only are we hardwired to do so, but we delight in doing so:
This innate passion for naming and categorizing can be brought into stark relief by the fact that most of the naming we do in the plant world might be considered strictly unnecessary. Out of the 30,000 edible plants thought to exist on earth, just eleven account for 93% of all that humans eat: oats, corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, yucca (also called tapioca or cassava), sorghum, millet, beans, barley, and rye. Yet our brains evolved to receive a pleasant shot of dopamine when we learn something new and again when we classify it systematically into an ordered structure.
With respect to history, it is easy to see that classification (knowing some of the differences between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment) provides a necessary scaffolding to keep learning and delighting in one’s understanding of the world.
 Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload (New York, NY: Dutton, 2014), 32.
I agree with all those habits, but would add another to make a baker’s dozen. It is the one that I most frequently tell folks who ask me how they can get published:
Don’t write to get published. Write because you must. Twisting Jer. 20:9 to serve my purposes, write because you can’t hold it in!
Walter Brueggemann is one of the greatest living biblical scholars. I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think.
Check this out at www.walterbrueggemann.com: He wrote 53 books by the typical retirement age of 65 and another 78 books from age 65 to now at 86 on this his birthday!
I recently read McEntyre’s Make a List which was terrific. I have been wanting to read Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies for some time and finally got around to it. It did not disappoint.
This book will inspire you to see the beauty and power of well-crafted words.
Not that this was the author’s explicit purpose, but it helps us read Scripture more carefully.
If you scroll down to the post for Dec. 19, 2018 you will see a heavily annotated copy of Finnegans Wake. My friend and regular reader of this blog, Dr. Dave McCoy, made a comment about his own copy of Finnegans Wake. I asked Dave to send me a picture and he has.
I love looking at the marginalia people put in their books and Bibles so enjoy a real pro at work here. And make sure to click the picture to enlarge it!:
When I spoke at Wheaton College I paid a visit to the Wade collection. It houses collections from the libraries of C.S. Lewis and many others. I asked to see a few of the books that were in the library of C.S. Lewis. The curator made the decision, but to my delight she brought up a copy of one of my favorites: Paradise Lost by Milton. I could not believe how many notes Lewis made in the margins, all in his meticulous penmanship. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take a picture.
The picture you see is a Latin text where you can see the written notes of Lewis at the bottom in both Latin and Greek.
Lesson learned: If a scholar like Lewis finds it helpful to write in books, what does that mean for the rest of us?!
Picture: HT Timothy Willard’s Instagram account
Marilyn McEntyre is a gifted wordsmith. She is also a keen observer of the grand and the obscure. This book showcases both those things.
McEntyre shows how slowing down and doing something as simple as making a list can lead to profound discoveries about one’s self, others, and the world one lives in.
A delightful book!