I am reading a book written for people who can’t handle the real book which this book is about — and I’m finding this book hard. The book about the book (the one I am actually reading) is called How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Maybe it says it all when I reveal that reading this book is part of my Lenten discipline. Each morning I sit down with it, a cup of tea, my big yellow highlighter, and an Anglican catechism (the other piece I took on for Lent, rather than give up candy for 40 days).
Clearly, getting through the original book, A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, would be for me the equivalent of building a rocket ship. Impossible. This is the second time in a year I have intentionally read something I found difficult. The other work was by Miroslav Volf, a Yale Divinity school professor of theology writing on grace and giving.
I like to now name-drop Volf into smart conversation to show I’ve read him (and earned $20 from my husband for persevering I will add). While discussing him with my father-in-law he mentioned that he too had read Volf, but found one of his books far too lite. Yes, as I knew the minute he said that, of course, that was the book I read, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace.
What I am doing is looking up words in the dictionary. A good thing. I’m forcing myself to focus and learn. Good. I’m being disciplined and sticking to a reading schedule that for me is like 20 minutes on an elliptical for my brain. Excellent. And I know as a writer that reading well and widely is essential. And I can eat candy. Great.