Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Booklovers! Librarians!

Currently, my bookshelf looks as follows:
Top shelf: reference - Bibles, dictionaries, concordance, official prayer books, etc.

After that: OT, general Bible, NT, biblical theology, church history (chronologically), historical theology, theology, liturgical theology, liturgics, prayers, interfaith prayers, biography/autobiographical theological stuffs, Jung's autobiography, religion as academic curiosity, religion/sociology, women's studies, sexuality, race studies, Gospel Mission, pastoral care, other nonfiction.

In the bedroom: fiction, personal devotional stuff, periodicals, journals.

There is no ethics section in that schema, nor is there leadership (though I think I had leadership after pastoral care at one point, which I could live with). I now have ethics books (and leadership books). Oh, and preaching, but that stays on the "current quarter" shelf for a while because we're using those books all year.

The question: where should ethics go? It doesn't make sense to put it with my one other ethics book between pastoral care and other. Do I put it between theology and liturgy, because it really flows best from theology? Then there's a disconnect between ethics and liturgy. Do I move theology, and run "biblical theology, theology, ethics, history, liturgy"? Then I lose the great chronological flow from New Testament into early church history, and the great connection of "theology, liturgical theology, liturgy." Does ethics belong between personal testimony/biography and cultural studies? Then where does "religion as academic curiosity/sociology" go?

I know this is a subject dear to the hearts of many readers. (Ok, a large percentage of readers - I'm not sure I really have "many" readers to begin with.) What would you do? I value greatly having my subjects flow into one another, and would be sad to have to adopt strict library-style separations. On the other hand, the more books I get and the more specific they become, the harder the flow becomes in some places.

5 comments:

Being Shielded said...

You could always use the Library of Congress system... no call numbers, I would think, but since the LC is categorized by subject and pre-ordered (see LC website), it might be helpful.

Anna said...

Actually, I gave up and put our non-fiction in Library of Congress order when we moved here. But what about putting ethics after pastoral care? Isn't that when they're practiced? Though I might think that because I live with a Psych grad student, not a seminarian. But that's my thought.

ppolarbear said...

Ethics is technically a sub-discipline of Theology (Theological Ethics) so I'd put it there. (Catholics even call it Moral Theology which makes me giggle because it sounds like some theology of immoral) I have been adding my books (slowly) into librarything and have been just as perplexed by how to categorize things, especially the div school textbooks!

Susie said...

I'm with PPB. When I organized my books, I put ethics right next to theology, which then flowed into leadership/Missiology, then pastoral care. then i moved and it got all messed up. oh well.

G. Brooke said...

Also on the LC system, I get interesting results. Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, and Bok's Lying, are in BJ. Other ethics books are scattered all over the "B" sections, depending on whether the book has a denominational concern, or is more broadly theological/philosophical. The medical ethics stuff is 'way over in the H's, and political ethics in the E's. Omigosh, and a book on euthanasia is in QH (nature and life sciences)! Are you sorry you asked, yet?