I really shouldn’t be blogging. I have other things to do. But… I cannot help myself.
I’m back at seminary, slaving away [sic] in the library, helping with the final recon project, which means putting barcodes on books. A good portion of our seminary library (itself the product of what might be a dozen mergers of smaller seminaries and their collections over the decades) is not in our electronic card catalog. This became an accreditation issue. And so, we sent out the “shelf list” — the card catalog that the librarians themselves use to keep track of the library’s holdings — to be scanned (reconned), and then from those scans, smart computer software generated “smart barcodes,” barcodes attached to electronic records about the books. It’s an arduous task, but it beats just simply slapping a barcode on a book and then creating a new record for each book.
But enough about the tedium of library work.
One of my tasks is to re-integrate the recently scanned shelf list cards back into the shelf list catalog (because about a third of the library had been reconned some time ago, and books after a certain date came equipped with electronic records). So I was integrating some of the H’s of the Library of Congress system. Can’t remember which part of the H’s, but it was that section that dealt with Marxism, Communism and the Christian response. Most of our books along these lines dated from the 1920s through the 1970s.
The titles broke down into three general categories: something must be done about Communism now or we are all doomed (!!), the church must do something to take Communism’s claims seriously or else it will lose all its relevancy in the tide of revolution or, worse, be partly responsible for the destruction of the world (!!!), or we must seek to understand exactly what communism is. All three approached their subject with the fierce urgency of the now, for there may be no tomorrow if the Reds take over, or there may be no tomorrow if we fail to appreciate that Marxism offers the world’s poor the hope of freedom, or there is no tomorrow if have no idea what we are talking about.
Something. Must. Be. Done. Now. Or. All. Is. Lost. There is more than a little implied doom in all that fierce urgency of the now.
It gave me pause. Yes, I understand that in 2011, I have a very privileged position from which to critique the hopeful or frightened writings of those living in 1958 or 1972. I know things they do not and cannot know about the world they live (and I have inherited from them). But I myself engage in more than a little fierce urgency of the now here at this blog.
And all these book titles, and subjects, are an important reminder — things may rarely turn out as well as we hope, but they also rarely turn out as badly as we fear.