The Book

by Roy Beckemeyer

Well, life on Earth would be much less meaningful to me without books.  So what better way to begin this blog than to acknowledge a wonderful paean to words printed on paper pages and bound into that wonderful artifact of civilization – the book.  Produced by the Eighth Day Institute in Wichita, Kansas, and titled “The Book by Synaxis n. a periodical gathering,” this periodical paperback (Volume 1, Number 1, Winter, 2012) was designed and edited by Erin Doom.  It is a unique and thought provoking assesssment and celebration of books and the role they play in our lives in this digital age.  It’s eight chapters are titled:

  • “Why Bother with Books?”
  • “What is a Book?”
  • “The Books of My Life”
  • The Fate of the Book”
  • “On the Reading of Theological Books”
  • Children’s Classics & Orthodox Spirituality”
  • “The Whole Book”
  • “The Pixel Became Flesh”

To quote the editor, each chapter is “… presented in the form of a triplet: an opening poem, a supplemental piece, and a prinary article.”  The chapters are really quite well put together and the pieces complement one another very well.  For example, the first chapter begins with a poem by Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz entitled “And Yet the Books,” a reminder that books will very likely be around much longer than any of the individuals who read them.  Next is an extract from Plato’s Phaedrus, which is followed by an extraordinary essay by Warren Farha with the same title as the chapter: “Why Bother with Books?”  It would be worthwhile to buy this book for this article alone, but the book is of consistently high quality, and there are many more memorable thoughts to be found here.

Although this is a periodical, “… each issue of Synaxis  is intended to look, feel, and function like a book.”  The editor notes that “… each issue…will focus on a theme of enduring relevance.  This inaugural issue focuses on ‘the book.’ The physical book increasingly finds itself neglected…”  He also says that “…each issue…strives to initiate dialogue by prompting a multitude of questions.”

I highly encourage every bibliophile to get on the Eighth Day Institute’s web site and order a copy of this first issue of Synaxis.  Even though the institute itself is affiliated with Orthodox Christianity, and promotes “renewing culture through faith and learning,” there is much here for readers of any religious or philosophical bent.  This issue of Synaxis meets its goal of promoting the “renewal of culture through literature and book reviews,” in a grand and eloquent fashion. 

– Roy Beckemeyer