I took a lot of psychology classes in college: cognitive psychology, abnormal psychology, behavioral psychology, psychology of learning, etc. Which class it was escapes me, but somewhere along the way, the teacher began the first class with a famous quote, I think from Heraclitus, about change being the only constant. Like the words of an old country song, Time Marches On: “the only thing that stays the same is, everything changes. Everything changes.”
I was immediately disgruntled about the quote. I protested. If everything changes, then there is no constant. It is a self-contradictory statement. But that would be me assuming that psychology classes would be logical (of all things!). And such is the problem with hyperbole in general. The problem with hyperbole is that it is so hyperbolic. But I digress.
Now I come full circle with Heraclitus. My only New Year’s Resolution is not to have any New Year’s Resolutions. Every blog I read has them. They’re making them; they’re telling us how to make them; telling us how lofty our goals should be; telling us not to be overly ambitious; telling us not to set the bar too high and not to set the bar too low. They’re discussing how many resolutions we should have. They’re sharing every Bible reading plan under the sun. I’ve done the same myself in years past.
Yet I a nagging desire to set goals for a new year tugs at my soul. My bent towards introspection peers deep down and asks me questions. Where are you? Where have you been? What do you need?
I read mostly philosophy, social commentary, and theology last year (though I read a good bit of fiction with my kids, and some on my own). This year, I feel the need for more fiction. A lot more fiction. Even some modern fiction, which is an area in which I have read next to nothing. I am Jack’s languishing imagination. (See below).
I need to read a novel a week for the entire year. That’s the ticket.
Maybe I need to see a shrink for thinking I will have the time or wherewithal to do so. But we do have a decent library in town.
I try to remember that the climax of the Epistle of James is “Above all, my brothers, do not swear an oath…” (James 5:12). ‘Above all,’ he says. Faith without works is dead. Be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer. But above and beyond that, most importantly, do not swear an oath! He is stressing the fact that we are frail creatures who often do not have the power, either morally or physically, to live up to our word. Therefore I make no promise, but will set a goal that I will attempt to meet should the Lord allow me to do so in his providence. Rash vows (nod to Chesterton) can be beautiful things, but they can also be acts of sinful pride.
I will still be reading theological and cultural works as well. I will still have my nose in the commentaries and Puritans. But, starting this week, I will be reporting on my progress as I strive to read 52 novels (or at least 52 decent-sized works of fiction) in the space of a year. Up first…
I am Jack’s rash vow.