“I loved a few books much; but I loved Nature, in all those material examples and subtle expressions, with a love passing all the books of the world.”
~John Burroughs, Notes on Walt Whitman (1867)
I purchased a new shredder a few weeks ago.
Seeing the pages chewed down into fine little bits is a good reminder of the wood fibers that we print on day after day. Our paper, our books, represent trees– endless forests of “useful” resources for humans to squeeze the ink of ideas onto.
A few people have been finding my Natural Bible blog where I only post occasional thoughts on world scriptures and the natural alternative: Nature. There you can find the “Sacred Shredder.” Here’s how I describe it:
“To an extent, the shredder is obviously figurative fiction. I am not arguing for a full ban and burning of all these books that contain a great deal of historical value (just as I would not argue for the destruction of archives and museums). However, and this is quite serious, I do not think societies, communities and even some governments (let alone families and individuals!) would be at all in a worse state if supernaturally-based books were at least highly discouraged.”
“If it is helpful and useful, let it be a tool that produces a thoughtful exchange of ideas and a healthier, happier community of freethinking individuals rather than a herd blindly following a book.”
This wild idea simply follows the suggestions of people like Thomas Paine, Kierkegaard and others:
“I have now gone through the Bible, as a [person] would go through a wood with an axe on their shoulder and fell trees. Here they lie; and the priests, if they can, may replant them. They may, perhaps, stick them in the ground, but they will never make them grow.” ~Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794
“Let us gather in every single copy of the New Testament, let us cart the whole collection out to an open place, or up a mountain top. . .and let someone speak to God, saying: ‘Take it back, this book; we humans, the way we are, should not get involved with such a book; it only makes us unhappy.’” Soren Kierkegaard, Diary, 1854
This is not about “desecrating” “holy” things or disrespecting the respectable in religion. However, it is about recovering the “sacred and holy” in our natural world which might mean we leave behind some of the old “baggage in the backpack” with the awful practice of killing things in this beautiful, living world (trees, cattle, etc) to create endless books and icons about other worlds. This is the non-respectable part of religion that needs to be challenged and shredded, in my opinion.
So, I’ll be rolling out the shredder from time to time, not for the purpose of destroying, but of building, not for killing, but for bringing life and the light of reason. I think it’s important to raise the most uncomfortable questions like,
What would happen if we left the human-made scriptures on the shelves, in the libraries and museums, and looked to the living, natural Bibles, Qur’ans, Gitas, Sutras, Analects and the sacred Scientific search, in the world we live in?
The ultimate question may be,
Where is wisdom?
The shredder might just help us here.