A faithful reader has written me and recommended a good question for readers that connects well with the examen we've been pursuing in recent weeks. The question he offers: What book or two have you read as an adult that you wish you would have read as a high school or college student?
I would add: And why? What's the reason for your selection?
If you cannot think of a particular book, what about part of a book (a chapter, a paragraph), or perhaps a poem or film? Is there another intellectual encounter that, for you, better answers the question?
This is a challenging inquiry for a few reasons, one of which is that much of what we enjoy as adults has the effect it does because we're adults. We tend to need a certain life experience and mental readiness to truly appreciate what an author or text is offering.
With that qualification (and others) in mind, I'll start. One work that answers the question for me is the prologue to Eamon Duffy's Faith of our Fathers. It's titled, "When Belief Fails," and I've returned to it repeatedly in my writing and in my own quest to refine my Catholic faith. I think I first encountered Duffy's essay during my mid-twenties, but I wish I would have read it earlier. Its insights on the limits of knowledge, the nature of faith, the meaning of the Mass, the fragility of the human condition -- and more -- continue to edify me even though I've read it dozens of times.
What about you?