Friday, November 22, 2013

A Little History of the World

Yesterday spent ALL DAY reading this book:

Well, actually, not the entire day, since N & I went shopping in the morning --- but part of the morning, and ALL afternoon, and ALL evening.  

Why do I do things like that?  I have a list of things I need to do as long as my arm, and I spend all day reading a book.

Sadly, I know the answer only too well.  Story has the power to grip me.  Once I have dipped into a story I am under a tenacious compulsion to keep on reading to find out what happens.  And I can't stop til I get to the end.  It's like I'm under a spell or something.

So if you want to know if this is a good book --- it is.  It was written in 1935 for young people and was so popular it has been through a number of editions.  Adults enjoy it too.  It's a sweeping survey of the history of (mainly) the Western world told in story form.  

Actually, history IS a story  (hi-STORY), but one I was not particularly interested in earlier in my life (it seemed so depressing since you already knew how the story comes out: everyone dies in the end).  But lately I have discovered an interest in history --- exactly what's been going on all these centuries?

After you read this book you will say, "Mostly fighting and conquering and bloodshed."  (although the book is not graphically violent at all (it was written for young people) and the Nazis actually forbade its publication in Nazi Germany as they considered it too "pacifist").

I am reminded of a story I read somewhere once of a king who wanted to know the history of the world and had a huge library of books, but was either too lazy or too busy to read them and find out.  

So his asked his wisest minister to condense the history of the world into just one volume.  After a year, the minister brought him the results of his labors --- just one book.

"Too heavy!" said the king. "Make it shorter."

In a half a year, the minister brought the king an abridged version of the book.

"Still too long." said the king. "I don't have time for this.  Cut it down to a short story."

So it went.  From a short story, the king wanted just an article, then just a paragraph, and finally, the king asked for the entire history of the world in just one word.

The minister went away and thought very hard for a long time and then came back and gave his king the one word.



Although, if I were asked to put the history of the world into one word, after reading this book I would say "selfishness".

And everybody does die in the end.  And it would be too depressing were it not for the hope of the gospel of Christ.  "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

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