There’s an old question that is worth asking again. The question has to be old because I remember asking and answering it when in grade school. When it was asked by a church leader, I knew the correct answer, and I always answered correctly. My answer may not have been truthful, but it was correct.
If you were to be stranded on a deserted island and could have only one book with you, what book would that be? Well, given how dependent I am on survival by convenience—food from the grocery store, clothes from the department stores, medical care from the doctors, and the shelter of a house built by other hands, I would want that one book to be All You Need to Know to Survive on this Deserted Island with Nothing But this Book.
The “right” answer, of course, is the Bible. Its sixty-six books have about all that can be found in modern literature. There is romance, comedy, tragedy, and enough devotional material for a lifetime. One can even find some how-to chapters scattered here and there. Come to think of it, those instructions on ark building might be good to have.
It you could only take one of the sixty-six books of the Bible, which one would you take? For me, it would be the Psalms. The Psalmists understood the whole of the human/divine drama. On the words of the Psalms one can cry from the depths of hell—and be heard—and shout from the heights of glory—and not be thought crazy. Through the Psalms one can express thanksgiving, lament, joy, anger, and hope. With them, one may challenge God and celebrate God. Yes, I would want the Psalms as my lone book. They might not teach me how to survive the deserted island; but they would remind me that only the island is deserted. With God, I am not deserted . . . ever.
If I could have the joy of taking a series of books, I would add Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series. Could I add some other books, I would add anything from Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, and James Michener.
Ah, but it is only one book . . . only one. If so, let it be Psalms. With the Psalms I might be alone but I would be a congregant among all God’s people; and with the Psalmists’ songs, I could sing.