Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Tome - Meditations for Skeptical Believers

Early last spring, I was reading The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor and subsequently did a blog post or two about it. A friend who saw those posts sent me a message that said something like, "Do you know Daniel Taylor? If not, you should. He lives just a couple blocks away from you."

So, I found a website for Daniel Taylor and sent him a message asking him if he would let me take him out for a cup of coffee and some conversation. He responded in the affirmative and we set up a time to meet at a nearby coffeehouse the following week.

It turned out to be a very snowy spring day, almost too snowy to keep the appointment, but we both showed up. The coffee was good, and so was the conversation. Before we left the coffee shop, I asked Daniel if he would sign my copy of The Myth of Certainty, which he graciously did. He wrote, "To David, a kindred spirit." I thought that was pretty nice and have since come to see it also as true.

Since our meeting, I've read Taylor's lastest book, The Skeptical Believer: Telling Stories to Your Inner Atheist. I can't tell you how many times while reading I thought, "He's right. We really are kindred spirits." Honestly, sometimes my thought was more along the lines of, "Wow, he's as bad as I am." Which, to be completely candid, was a warm comfort to me (and pleasantly discomforting to my inner atheist).

The Skeptical Believer is a a fairly long book (388 pages) comprised of very short chapters (86 of them). While there is an overarching structure and direction for the book, each of the short essays could easily stand alone. For that reason, I would encourage readers to take their time and to read this book slowly over a couple of months, reading maybe one or two essays a day. You could practically approach this book as a collection of daily meditations for skeptical believers.

The one-hundred-fifty psalms of the Old Testament are best read a little at a time. Because of the similarities in theme and structure, the depth and meaning of individual psalms may be lost to the reader if taken in too many at one time. Better to read less, savor slowly, and think more. I suggest the same is true with The Skeptical Believer. Go ahead and plow through other books on your reading list, but take this one slowly. Treat it like a long series of conversations with a neighbor at a nearby coffee shop.

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