The first days of Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual book sale are an academic feeding frenzy. Used copies of biblical commentaries, patristic texts and works by Aquinas, Luther and Calvin are quickly scooped up by eager seminarians. After two days of this, what’s mostly left are the “cutting-edge” religion books of the 1950s and ’60s—the dregs of retired pastors’ libraries that the next generation can do without.
Most of these books, having passionately defended a bygone mind-set, won’t even find a taker on the sale’s final day, when a box full of books can be had for five dollars. Titles like Episcopal bishop James Pike’s A Time for Christian Candor have one last modern cause to serve: they add to the pile labeled “recycling.” As the saying goes, he who marries the spirit of the age will soon become a widower.