catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 10 :: 2011.05.20 — 2011.06.09


The book that changed my life

I read a Book once, and it changed my life forever. It gripped me in its hands, shook me up and set me down again, changed. I can say without exaggeration that this was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

The Book was given to me by a colleague in my office. We had been reading books together for awhile — talking about them, sharing ideas. They were heady days because we both read the same way. We read for truth. We read not only the Bible as a true story for our lives, but everything else as well. All that we read — novels, plays, poetry, essays, philosophy, theology, politics, little indie magazines — all of it was a word of truth to be honored, pondered and acted on.

Not all the stories were good of course. Some were tragic. Some had betrayal. Some books were heavy on critique. But everything was so…clear. Those who lived immoral lives lived to regret the circumstances. Those who acted rightly were rewarded. It was a black and white world.

So we read together and talked and read some more. And, of course, we were in love not only with the books, but with each other.

The catch was that I was married. To someone else. At least at first. What I mean is that at first it was a catch that I was married to someone else. But then we found The Book. It was a marvelous Book — a compelling Book. It was a Book about a man who had it all: a wife, a career and a lover. But here’s the thing: this story made no apologies for the lover; instead it celebrated the relationship. It was more than a novel; it was a theological argument for loving more than one person. The Book ended with nothing less than a vision of heaven, where all men and women rejoiced in each other equally and where words like unfaithfulness and betrayal didn’t exist. It was, in short, a book by a Christian that argued for the life I wanted to live.

So we read The Book. We talked about it. And we became lovers. Because of this Book I became things that I never wanted to be: unfaithful, a betrayer, untrustworthy, an adulterer. Because of this Book, I became one of a dreary line of people throughout history who thought they were exempt from the morality that bound everyone else.

Maybe that’s putting it a little strongly. It wasn’t just the fault of this Book. There was, to put it starkly, the sin in my own heart as well. But The Book sure helped.

So there it is. I read a Book once and acted on it and now I have a past with a secret. I have a history that I am ashamed of. I have a part of my life that I can’t share with my children or my friends or (especially) my church. I read a Book once and now I live with regret.

Did I learn anything, you ask? I learned something about reading. That not all that I read is true, no matter how attractive it is. I learned something about my own weaknesses. And I learned about grace — a hard lesson about grace.

And I learned this: Be careful what you read. Be careful. Because once a story pulls you in, you might not emerge until it has changed you and shaken you up. And while sometimes that is good, it could just as easily mess you up, chew you up and spit you out, just another victim of seduction.

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