How to Organize a Theocratic Library
SHEREZADE, a bright little Spanish girl, was four years old when her teacher informed the class that they were going to color pictures of “Father Christmas.” Right away, Sherezade asked to be excused. She explained that her conscience would not allow her to do that.
Surprised by this objection, the teacher told her that it was only like coloring a picture of a doll and that there was nothing wrong in that. Sherezade replied: “If it is only a doll, I would prefer to draw a doll myself if you don’t mind.”
On another occasion the class was told to color the national flag. Once again Sherezade asked if she could do something else. By way of explanation, she told the teacher the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.—Daniel 3:1-28.
Not long afterward the teacher telephoned Sherezade’s mother to express her amazement. “Your daughter on several occasions has spoken to me about her conscience,” she said. “Can you imagine that? A girl of her age explaining to me why her conscience is troubling her! Look, I don’t agree with what you are teaching her, but I assure you that you are succeeding. And I want you to know that I take my hat off to your daughter.”
How can a four-year-old girl acquire a Bible-trained conscience? Her mother, Marina, explains that Sherezade has her own theocratic library in her bedroom. The library includes her personal copies of The Watchtower, which she has underlined, her literature for preaching, and all the publications of the Watchtower Society that have been released since she was born. The favorite item in her library is the audiotape My Book of Bible Stories, which she listens to every night while following along in her printed copy. It was these Biblical accounts that enabled her to make the decisions mentioned above.
Could a well-organized theocratic library help you and your children? Why is a home library necessary?
“A Library Is Not a Luxury”
“A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life,” declared Henry Ward Beecher. Doubtless, nearly all of us have one of these “necessaries of life,” albeit unknowingly. How so? Because even if we have in our possession nothing more than the Bible, we own a library of a kind.
The Bible is really a theocratic library par excellence. In the fourth century, Jerome coined the Latin phrase Bibliotheca Divina (Divine Library) to describe the complete collection of inspired books we call the Bible. Jehovah provided us with this sacred library to give us practical help, instruction, and guidance. It is something we should never take for granted. The mere possession of the entire Bible means that we have a more extensive library than most of God’s servants had in times past.
When expensive handwritten manuscripts were all that were available, few, if any, private homes could boast a complete Bible. When Paul wished to study the Scriptures during his final imprisonment in Rome, he had to ask Timothy to bring him some scrolls from Asia Minor—probably portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. (2 Timothy 4:13) Synagogues, however, did house a collection of scrolls, and both Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul took advantage of these libraries in their preaching work. (Luke 4:15-17; Acts 17:1-3) Happily, the Scriptures are now much more accessible than they were in the first century.
Thanks to the invention of the printing press, today almost all of God’s servants—whatever their language may be—can obtain the entire Bible at a reasonable cost. We also have the unique opportunity of complementing this sacred “library.” For over a century, the “faithful and discreet slave” has been busy providing spiritual food at the proper time.—Matthew 24:45-47.
But it is unlikely that we will take full advantage of this invaluable information if we do not organize a personal theocratic library. How can that be done? The first step, of course, is to obtain the books such a library needs. It is well worth the effort, since it will enable us to have at our fingertips the precise information we need to handle problems and answer Bible questions.
What Books Do I Need?
Have you ever wondered how you could solve a communication problem in your marriage or how you could help your children say no to drugs? How could you help a friend who is suffering from depression? Can you explain clearly what evidence we have that God exists and why he permits wickedness? What does the scarlet-colored beast of Revelation chapter 17 represent?
These and countless other questions can be answered if you have an adequate theocratic library. The Watchtower Society has published books, brochures, and magazine articles that cover a complete range of Scriptural subjects. Furthermore, this literature deals with family matters, builds up our faith in God and the Bible, enables us to improve our preaching skills, and helps us to understand Bible prophecies.
Most of the publications printed by the Society during the last 20 years are still available. If you have come into the truth recently, it would be worthwhile for you to obtain all such works that are available in your language. It may be that bound volumes of past years of The Watchtower are available in your language. Outstanding reference works, such as Insight on the Scriptures and the Comprehensive Concordance, have also been published in various languages. Acquiring these books, however, is only the first step.
Organize Your Library!
Knowing that you have the book somewhere is one thing, but finding the one you need is another. If we have to waste a lot of time searching for the reference work we need, chances are we will lose interest in the matter. On the other hand, if we have our books well arranged, in a convenient place, we will be much more inclined to do personal research.
If possible, it is helpful to have the bulk of theocratic books in one place. Bookshelves can be made, and often quite cheaply, if we cannot afford to buy them ready-made, and they need not take up much space. Easy access to the library is also important. Books stored away in attics usually do little more than collect dust.
The next step is to organize the books. Just a short time spent arranging the books in a logical order brings dividends.
What if most of your family are not Jehovah’s Witnesses? Although you may not be able to organize a library as you would like to, in your own room you may have a bookshelf that contains at least some Scriptural publications.
A Theocratic Library Can Help Build Spirituality
Once we have our books arranged, we need a system to help us locate the information. Our memories may be faulty, and we may not personally be familiar with the contents of every book in our theocratic library. Nevertheless, all the information in the library is readily accessible. If it is available in our language, the Watch Tower Publications Index can enable us to find specific information on almost any subject in a short time.
Julián, who has served for many years as a special pioneer and an elder, explains that the Index is invaluable in teaching his youngest son to do personal study. “Jairo, who is seven years old, came home from school the other day and asked me, ‘Daddy, what has the Society said about dinosaurs?’ We went straight to the Index and looked up the word ‘dinosaurs.’ Almost right away we found an Awake! cover series on the subject. [February 8, 1990] That same day, Jairo began to read it. He already knows that our theocratic library has useful information on practically every subject. Personally, I’m convinced that when our children learn to make good use of a theocratic library, it helps them grow spiritually. They learn to reason, and what’s more, they discover that personal study can be enjoyable.”
Fausto, the father of Sherezade mentioned at the outset, believes that you cannot start too early in training children to use a theocratic library. “We are already showing Sherezade, who is now six years old, how to use the Index,” he explains. “Since she is fascinated by the prospect of the earthly Paradise, we began by showing her the word ‘paradise’ in the Index and then looking up Watchtower articles mentioned. Usually we would just show her the pictures. Nevertheless, by this method she learned that the Index is the key to finding information in our home library. We knew that she had got the point when she returned from school one day with a question about Easter celebrations. ‘Why don’t we look something up with the Index?’ she asked her mother.”
Whatever our age, the Bible encourages us to “make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) This requires that we examine what the Scriptures say. (Acts 17:11) If we have a well-organized theocratic library, such research can be a pleasure. Each time we successfully use our library to prepare a talk, to find practical counsel on handling a problem, or to look up interesting information, it will impress upon us the practical value of our library.
Sherezade’s parents point out: “In a Christian household, a theocratic library is definitely not a luxury!”
[Box on page 30]
HOW COULD YOU ARRANGE YOUR BOOKS?
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how to organize your books. Nevertheless, the following logical divisions illustrate one way you could arrange your books according to contents.
1. Books that contain a verse-by-verse analysis of certain parts of the Bible
(Examples: The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, “The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah”—How?, “Your Will Be Done on Earth”)
2. Books related to family life
(Examples: Making Your Family Life Happy, Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, My Book of Bible Stories)
3. Bibles and reference works
(Examples: New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References, other Bibles, Watch Tower Publications Indexes, Comprehensive Concordance, Insight on the Scriptures, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, a good dictionary)
4. Books currently being used for the Congregation Book Study and the Theocratic Ministry School
5. Audiocassettes and videos
6. Bound volumes of The Watchtower and Awake!
7. History of Jehovah’s Witnesses
(Examples: Yearbooks of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom)
8. Books and brochures we regularly use in our ministry
(Examples: You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Reasoning From the Scriptures, Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, Mankind’s Search for God, United in Worship of the Only True God)
[Picture on page 31]
Sherezade has already become a good Bible student
[Picture on page 31]
Although young, this boy is using a theocratic library