The Body Builder – Footnotes

by Major Terry Camsey –

It was my good fortune recently to be able to spend a few days on vacation in Carmel and its environs. It was an opportunity to laze about and do some recreational reading.

(I read a phenomenal number of books in a year to expand my understanding, but recreational books are just that… recreational. In fact, the recreational reading is so recreational that I rarely retain what I have read. I don’t often throw such books away, therefore, since I can read them time and time again and still be surprised by the ending!)

Some of that reading was done on the beach front in Capitola, sipping my favorite latte coffee. It was during that reading that I became aware of the conversation at the next seafront bench where a young reporter from the local “Sentinel” newspaper was interviewing a couple of elderly ladies. (Why did I say that? They were probably younger than I am on the outside). She asked them both which department store chain they would take if offered any one as a gift. I don’t recall what the second lady said but the first was interested in a pizza chain.

I said to my wife, I hope she asks me because I will say “Borders”… the bookstore chain that sells books and latte as well. A certain kind of paradise for me. Sure enough she came over…

Her question? “What do you feel about the race for the White House?” I was dumbfounded, not having given it too much thought, so mumbled something about there being no clear front runner at the moment.

Yes, I love books. A confession, though (good for the soul, they say)…

I hate the tendency these days for everything written in non-fiction, educational books to have copious footnotes. It’s as if no one can have an original thought any more. If they do, without the backing of a ream of other people’s statements referred to in the footnotes, the potency, even believability of what they say is viewed with suspicion.

(I have a sneaky feeling that many of those footnotes came into being because one author quoted someone, then both were quoted in someone else’s book, then all three were quoted in the next book and so on. A few generations of books may yield several footnotes all supporting the thesis, yet all derived from one person’s statement in the first place!)

It’s a sad state of affairs, and I can foresee the day when there will be so many footnotes that they will comprise the whole book and you’ll have to buy the books of those quoted to see what is being said. Maybe that’s not a bad thing since we should then be able to trace the original to its source.

Couple of good words there. “Original” and “source.”

Every Christmas we celebrate the Originator of all things (rarely footnoted in non-religious books) and his “very original gift” to mankind… Jesus, modeler of mankind’s potential.

The greatest gift is, surely, that we are created in his image and can strive to reflect him to our communities. That gift includes the gift of creativity ­ since we are made in the image of our Creator ­ which suggests to me that original thinking, inspired by God himself, is still a possibility. We do not derive our value from the footnotes attributable to other people… even if they are writers!


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