"The axe for the frozen sea within us."

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

― Franz Kafka 

A wise word for readers and for writers! Do we want books that sooth and tell us what we already know, or books that shake us to the core and lead us to rethink and change? 

A Facebook friend posted this Kafka quote, after I linked to Rachel Held Evan’s latest blog, “I love the Bible.” I think this is one of her best to date and one that will make us think.

As another FB friend rephrased Kafka,

The Bible is the axe for the frozen sea within us.”  

Amen to that!

Note:  Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. Born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary, his unique body of writing—mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.

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3 Responses to "The axe for the frozen sea within us."

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love all the metaphors used to describe God's Word…hammer, fire, bread, may the “water of His Word” wash over our souls today!! Thank you Carolyn for being an “ezer” to so many! Looking forward to your next book! ~ an avid reader of CCJ and FB/newsletter follower

    Like

  2. JAT says:

    Your Kafka quote escapes me. Do you really think “…we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide”?…

    Like

  3. Carolyn says:

    Kafka employs extreme language—the point being to read books that shake us up and make us think.

    Actually, if we read honestly, the Bible rattles us like that. The writer of Hebrews uses extreme language too, warning us that God's word is like a razor sharp blade. Handle it carefully. You might get cut.

    “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Hebrews 4:12

    Like

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