I was told this past summer that it is worth making a study, at least once in a lifetime, of a single author.
That there is inherent worth in reading everything by that one person - their memoirs, random notes they wrote to friends, any philosophical treatises they produced, or stories they wrote, the entire corpus of their thought - and simply being present with it.
This advice - study one person, as much as possible - concerned me.
After all, being that close to one author is to be influenced by that person at a deep level. You will begin to mirror the authors you read as you take in their paradigm, putting on their lens for the world.
Should we ever allow any one person to influence us to that level?
(And, isn’t it sufficient that our parents and friends have shaped us in that way our whole lives?!?)
To counter the fear, however, I realized that one must take care in the choosing.
Rarely in life do we have the choice in what or who will influence us. We are born into families, we are placed into classrooms, and so on and so forth.
Even in college - the first place most young people exercise true choice - choice is limited. The best professors may teach the very class you want... but it’s closed.
But the beauty of this process, this submission of one’s self to another, is the choosing.
It requires an intentional pre-study of an author even before you begin to take in their work.
You must study the author to see if the ideas they will be giving you are the kinds of ideas that will allow you to flourish in ways that allow you to serve God better, to glorify God more, to love the Body of Christ better, and so on...
The truth is, I'm also finding it hard to allow myself to apprentice to one great thinker. When I think of the Body of Christ, beautiful in its diversity and complexity, I think of the way that whole is shaped by its parts.
I think this is also true of apprenticeship.
I want to be shaped by many, I want to take their wisdom into my metaphysical joints and marrow and be...
...more whole because of the meal.