On Restraint, Book Purchasing, and the Afflictions of the Righteous

Those of you more intimately acquainted with my meek spirit and mild manners would surely be hard-pressed to believe reports that I have taken up the pen to defend myself from any libellous charges leveled against my person. While I do not wish to offend your delicate sensibilities, I feel it appropriate at this time to write a few lines to contradict, by means of a concrete example, what has proven to be one of the more persistent accusations against my character over the years.

It may come as a shock to you that many people of ill will, whose senses have been dulled to all things good, true, and beautiful, have often gleefully accused me of being a compulsive book buyer. I am truly at a loss to understand how anyone could possibly concoct such an outrageously distorted notion, given that my restraint in the matter of book purchases may only be compared to the heroic self-control ascribed to Æneas throughout Virgil’s epic.

Surely my testimony is so obviously true that no further proof of it is necessary. Yet, given the galling longevity of this heinous accusation, I will condescend to provide irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

A couple of years ago I learned of the publication of Fr James Thornton’s book, The Œcumenical Synods of the Orthodox Church: A Concise History (Etna: CTOS, 2007). Now I have long been aware of Fr James Thornton’s work, which I hold in great esteem; therefore I have no reason to doubt that  this is a fine volume indeed. However, two long years have passed and (in a display of my heroic restraint in these matters) I have not yet purchased the book. While it would doubtless make for a valuable addition to my library, I must admit that, considering that for various reasons I have other, more pressing bibliographical needs, I have no immediate use for it. True, the book retails for a mere $11.95 USD; but does even this remarkably low price justify an immediately unnecessary book purchase? No, of course, it does not. And so it is that the book is still on a list and not yet on my reading table.

Consider now this: just a few days ago, while browsing the CTOS website, I decided to look once again at the sample PDF they offer for Fr James’ book. While scanning the Index of Names (which, I am ashamed to admit, I hadn’t done before), I was delighted to discover that he refers to none other than the infallible Moisés Silva in page 144 of this volume. Needless to say, the book’s already high stock went even higher with me right there and then. I was suddenly seized by the urge to purchase the book immediatelyindeed, I promptly located my wallet, pulled out my card, and stood at the very brink of completing the transaction. But then Reason made her voice heard: “How long,” she asked, “will this fine volume lay around in unmarked piles until you have the time to get to it? Would it not make more sense to purchase it when you are ready to tackle it immediately?” And so, remembering my committment to never make orders from the CTOS that came to less than fifty dollars, I put away my card and wallet.

Naturally, however, the inclusion of our Infallible Hero in the Index of Names has bumped this title considerably in the queue. (Of course, Arius, Libanius, Nestorius, and Dioscorus are all listed in the Index too, but I rather doubt that Silva otherwise shares their lot.) And since the long-awaited publication in one volume of Archbishop Chrysostomos’ Themes in Orthodox Patristic Psychology: Humility, Obedience, Repentance, and Love (a justly celebrated work that is also directly relevant to my current reading) is slated for not many days hence, who knows how long it will be before I place an order.

But let it be known to all nations, kindred, and tongues that at least two years went by before I purchased a book that I have wanted all along. Let that be the final word to those who unjustly accuse me.

6 responses to “On Restraint, Book Purchasing, and the Afflictions of the Righteous

  1. Well good for you. I nearly considered purchasing the book for you but then I thought that it might cheapen your victory. That, and well, I’m poor! ;-)


  2. Oh, Nick — you should NEVER think it counterproductive to aid your brothers and sisters in their struggles! Why, what greater relief could there be for a suffering soul but for some saintly champion to altogether remove the cause of their tempatation? That said, I will accept poverty as an excuse. ;-)


  3. Dear Fr James,

    I am humbled that you have somehow found your way here, and would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank you for the many benefits that I have derived from your works (homiletical and otherwise) as I have encountered them over the years.

    It would be an honor and a delight to receive an inscribed copy of the book from you. I am profoundly grateful for your kindness, and look forward to learning much from this work. Is email a good way to convey my contact information to you?

    Thanks again!

    Kissing your right hand,


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