This a sequel to this post from November. As with that post,
The following is inspired by my encounters with adults and with teenagers over the past twenty-four years. It is also inspired by my faith and my love of literature. It is intended to be both humorous and edifying.
And, of course, only God knows if I will ever have sons to read this letter. But for now, it’s for the blog, which at times is like a child to me. And perhaps through this blog post I can help others.
To my boys,
As I have said many times, reading is the one of the most important things in the world. Christ is the most important, but reading comes within the top five alongside manners and proper hygeine. Reading has the ability to change your life and the world. It has the ability to introduce you to new peoples and places. It allows you to challenge yourself and question yourself. It allows you to grow and to be.
Reading can make you a better person. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically become a better person if you just pick up a book and read it. You have to READ it. You have to understand it. You have to allow the book to soak into your mind and then your soul. You have to allow the book to become a part of you.
It’s not easy, but it’s such a good idea. It’s so good for you. And because it’s good for you, it’s good for the people around you-your friends, your family, and so on. You read. You allow the book to make you a better person. And thereby, you can make the world a better place. It might sound idealistic, but bit by bit, it works.
You can learn so much from books. Look at the journey of Huckleberry Finn to manhood. Look at the leadership of Henry V, the courage of Sidney Carton, the honor of Aragorn, the humility of Frodo, the hope of Samwise Gamgee, the love of Alexandre Manet, the joy of Merry (so aptly named) and of Pippin, the chivalry and humility of King Arthur, the self-sacrificial nature of Harry Potter, the love and dedication of Benedick, etc. Look at these men. They reflect characteristics that I want you to have. I want you to become men of honor and humility, of hope and joy, of love and dedication. I want you to be Christ-like men. And I believe that from Henry V to Harry Potter, we see time and again the message that Christ gave to his apostles in his last days before his crucifixion: Greater love has no man than this: to be willing to die so that another might live. (John 15:13).
Greater love has no man…be men of that love. Live that love, that passion. And you can learn it from Shakespeare, from Dickens, from Rowling. Pick up a book and read. Look at High King Peter the Magnificent. Why was he magnificent? Because he put others before himself, because he loved his country more than himself…because he was willing to serve Aslan in good times and in bad-this is what I want for you.
I want you to fight for what you believe in. Be an Aragorn. Be a Henry. Be a Gilbert Blythe. Fight for what you believe in. Fight for what you love. Fight. Don’t be afraid of greatness. Be great. Be men of greatness.
How can you learn to be great? Read about greatness. Read biographies and histories. Look at the lives of generals and missionaries. Learn about their lives. What made them good? What did they love? Why did they do what they did? What motivated them?
Look at their lives and learn from them. Be like Neville Longbottom. Be like Eustace Scrubb. Be like Henry V. Put your faith in something that matters. See beyond the moment and look for the greater picture. Look for the eternal. Live as a Narnian even if there is no Narnia.
Be men of honor. Be like Westley. Know that not even death can stop true love. And know that love is not just a romantic sentiment, but rather that it is an action, an action of nobility, honor, and courage. Love requires much of a man. Be men who can love.
And if you look at literature-both fiction and nonfiction, you will find countless men who know how to love-men who are willing to die for love, men who are willing to give up comfortable lives for love. Do not be afraid to be like them. Look at their motivation and courage. Be like them. Follow in their footsteps. Learn from their lives.
More than anything, I want you to be men of God. I want you to be the good men of whom Henry V spoke on St. Crispian’s Day. I want you to be not only hearers of the Word but doers of it. And I believe that for you to become strong, holy men of God, you must read. First, read the Bible. Meet Moses and Aaron, Samuel and David, Peter and John. Meet Christ. Then read literature. Read about the heroes of old. Read about noble knights who saved damsels in distress. Read about modern heroes. Learn from their deeds-both good and bad. Learn to recognize the difference between good and evil, light and darkness. And then, put those lessons into action.
So, become strong, holy men of God. It is my greatest hope and prayer for you. Challenge yourselves. Never let yourselves off easily.
Always remember that I challenge you out of love. And more importantly, remember that Christ challenges you out of love.
Be great. Be noble. Be holy. And please read.
With all of my love,