The second week of January celebrates National Letter Writing Week (Jan 9th-15th, 2011). While I’m moderately a letter writer, I find it’s often much easier to send a quick note via email or Facebook. Although I love hand making notecards and stationary, I admittedly don’t get them out nearly as often as I would like. So I find a week dedicated to letter writing to be inspiring!
In addition to volumes of essays, some of my favorite reading includes volumes of published letters. Letters give such great insight into the writer of favorite books …think of the various volumes of letters that C.S. Lewis has penned (two of my favorites are Letters to Malcolm: chiefly on prayer and the delightful Screwtape Letters which relate 31 letters between Screwtape, a senior devil and Wormwood, a junior devil).
A quick look at the Stamps Theological Library collection shows that we have more than 500 volumes of letters in our collections. Of course, this varies widely – we have many New Testament commentaries on Paul’s letters, we have volumes of pastoral letters from the leaders of the early church through the churches of today and historic letters of encouragement such as William Booth’s Letters to Salvationists on religion for every day (Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army). We have the opportunity to learn about life in different cultures and lands through the letters written home by missionaries. Letters of theologians such as Karl Barth-Rudolf Bultman Letters, 1922-1966, letters of John and Charles Wesley in a variety of resources, including John and Charles Wesley : selected prayers, hymns, journal notes, sermons, letters and treatises and In her words : women’s writings in the history of Christian thought all help us to learn from individuals who have shaped the way we think about church and indeed, the Christian life.
Consider writing a letter this week to someone – a real letter on paper – and then perhaps, drop by and peruse some of the many volumes of interesting letters on our shelves.
The artwork celebrating National Letter Writing Week is found at the National Postal Museum of the Smithsonian Institution http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2d1_letters.html). The poster is one of the WPA (Work Progress Administration) pieces that were designed between 1936-1943 and were made possible through one of the first government programs to support the arts. If you would like to know more about WPA posters, we have a volume on them in the Marshburn Library Posters of the WPA .