The Infinite Desire

It’s always good to plan. I had a high school teacher, John Weathers, who constantly quipped “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Quite often I have set goals for reading and only partially realized them, and these past two years which saw my name on two books, entailed a good bit of reading beyond what I normally get to just in my course of my own curiosity. The one, a festschrift for Fr. John Patrick Donnelly was a collection of edited essays, but they were a joy to read and work through. The other, my book on Calvin, had me pouring through reams of original sources, as well as the secondary literature. Yet I also sat down with lots of books I had planned to read through, and some I have just begun.

I should say that I read with delight Fr. Deacon Nicholas Kotar’s Raven’s Son series (well the first four books of it, as he hasn’t finished the others yet). I may well read them all again in anticipation of the next volumes (please, Fr. Nic, be quick to press!). I also reread Tolkien’s main works, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and LOTR, as well as a good amount of his extra work (all in prep for the St. Basil Summer program). I also made my way through a large section of St. John Chrysostom’s Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles.

Then there are the books I finished this year (and some of these I had started the year before).

Brain Daley, SJ, trans.,Light on the Mountain. Patristic and Byzantine Homilies on the Transfiguration
St. John Damascene, The Fount of Wisdom (Philosophical Chapters and On Heresies)
Herman Engelhardt, After God
Geoffrey Kirk, Without Precedent
Peter Marshall, 1517. Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation
Richard Rex, The Making of Martin Luther
John Howe, Before the Gregorian Reform
Kaldellis, The Byzantine Republic
John Morrall, Political Thought in Medieval Times
Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
Fr. Andrew Damick, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, 2nd edition
Dylan Pahman, Foundations of a Free and Virtuous Society
Archimandrite (now Bishop) Tikhon, Everyday Saints
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Reclaiming the Atonement
Fr. Robert Hugh Benson, Confessions of a Convert
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Churchianity and Christianity
Paul Gottfried, Revisions and Dissents
Fr. Ronald Knox, St. Paul’s Gospel
Joseph Pieper, What does “Academic” Mean?
Jaroslav Pelikan, Fools for Christ
Jacques Barzun, A Word or Two Before You Go . . . brief essays on language. (this is a reread).
Doc Ephraim Bates, Chasing Revenge
G. Riddle, The Atlantis Gene

This past year I also reread Leclerq’s The Love of Learning and the Desire for God
Runciman’s Byzantine Theocracy, Monti’s The Life and Writings of St. Thomas More, Southern’s “The Tradition of History Writing in the West”, and none of this includes the books I picked up, read for a few days, and then put down (my desk is like a bus terminal during the holidays).

There are of course, since I teach them, books and authors I returned to, and with glee and joy shall return to, again and again, such as St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, Boethius, Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Erasmus, and for the first time in a while I shall return to Plato and the Dialogues around the trial and death of Socrates.

For the coming year I plan on finishing the following, which I began this year (Stockman excepted).

Mary Ford, The Soul’s Longing
Paul Gottfried, The Strange Death of Marxism
Louis Bouyer, Woman and Man with God
Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands
Ralph McInerny, Dante and the Blessed Virgin
James Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt
Richard Swinburne, Revelation
David Stockman, The Great Deformation

And I am planning on reading the following, as they are already out, where my eyes have to see them, goading me to finish what I have started so that I can get to them.

Henri de Lubac, Pic de la Mirandole
Stratford Caldecott, The Radiance of Being
Etienne Gilson, The Choir of the Muses
Ford & Ford, Glory and Honor
R. V. Young, At War with the Word
Uwe Michael Land, The Voice of the Church at Prayer
G. Willis, A History of the Early Roman Liturgy, to the death of Gregory the Great
Michel R. Barnes, Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa (I started this some years ago, but will reread in the next week or so).
Evan Thomas, The War Lovers (not a novel)
Michael Haldas, Echoes of Truth
Steve Robinson, Lord of the Hunt (just started)
Roger Scruton, I Drink, therefore I Am (a gift from a student that I already had, but hadn’t cracked).
Fr. Aidan Nichols, The Holy Eucharist and also his From Hermes to Benedict XVI: Faith and Reason in Modern Catholic Thought (if I don’t read two of Fr. Aidan’s books every year, I fall behind).

Doubtless, as with every year, there will be other books to pick up and read. That my library is larger than I can ever reasonably hope to finish is simply an admission that my soul is stretching to the Eternal, that is, to God. A number of these books I have had for a while (I still remember the de Lubac book on Pico when it arrived: I was giddy), but need to prioritize. If I can read 40 – 50 books a year, teach and write, I think I shall be at least somewhat satisfied.

May God grant you all a wonderful 2019, and may you not only finish all your books, but both immensely profit from and thoroughly enjoy them (for if you do the latter, you have done the former).

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About Cyril Jenkins

Professor of History
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2 Responses to The Infinite Desire

  1. frenchc1955 says:

    Now this is an impressive list!

  2. Cyril Jenkins says:

    I’ve fallen behind, but hope to make some headway tomorrow if we get enough snow that my school is canceled. Praying hard.

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