May 4th, 2011

piranha - tundra red.

OK, so this is the e-mail I sent to the small group.

So earlier this morning, I e-mailed the small group to let everyone know that we'd decided on The Abolition of Man, and perhaps we should try reading a short chapter a week. One of the group members responded that she thought that sounded good, because we'd be able to read/listen the book together at the group sessions.

That really just seems like a bad idea to me. To be blunt, I don't think it'll work. Lewis' writing is directed at a college audience in the book; it's not hard to understand but it's fairly intellectual.

So I wrote:
I've been skimming over the first chapter The Abolition of Man, to get an idea of Lewis' writing style, and I'm noticing a liberal sprinkling of Latin phrases, frequent use of footnotes, and references to Greek, Oriental, and Christian philosophers. I don't think Lewis is a difficult author to read and understand, but this is not one of his easier books, either.

I know it's a crazy busy time of year, and a couple of people have mentioned that they aren't sure they'll be able to keep up with the reading, but I really think that if we can't commit to reading the text before we meet, The Abolition of Man will not be a good experience for us. Listening to the book together at the beginning of the session is a good idea, because it helps to reinforce and refresh the material, but it's not enough. There's a lot going on in these short chapters, and I don't think a single listening will be enough to truly understand it.

So I think every single one of us needs to stop and ask, "Can we commit to reading each chapter before we meet? If there's something I don't understand, will I take the five or ten minutes to look it up on Google or Wikipedia or whatever?" Because if we can't - and honestly, I don't know if I can make that commitment, I have to pray about it - that's fine, but if that is the case we shouldn't do this book right now.

I hope that didn't come off as too rant-y or crazy. I'm just concerned. I know that I, personally, was trying to coast through the final third of Acts with prior knowledge and minimal preparation, and that definitely affected my ability to participate and grow with the group.

Too much?
I would be willing to make the commitment to carefully read each chapter, and look up the Latin bits and so on, because I want to grow and develop as a Christian. But dude, it's finals season. I'm not going to make my life that much harder right now if everyone else will coast through, because that's not going to lead to growth.
piranha - new romantic.

C. S. Lewis - Switching books?

So most of the group members didn't respond, but the two who did suggested we switch to Mere Christianity, which is an "easier" book. I've read it before - as have several other members of the group - but it probably wouldn't hurt me to read it again, so I'm OK with that change. I'd still prefer Abolition of Man, but the other book seems a better match for our group. (Never let it be said that I can't compromise, eh?)

Besides, it occurred to me that if we do a longer book like Mere Christianity, I'll miss about half the sessions because I'll be in Europe. So I probably shouldn't have much of a say in this particular choice, anyway.