So Chancellor Martin wants to start a really big book club. Aside from my frustration about the pronunciation ambiguity ("red" or "reed"?), I think it sounds like a great idea. Reading a book as a community establishes a set of shared referents like almost no other experience can, and one of the hardest things about talking to people from different backgrounds is the (perceived?) lack of such referents.
I don't envy whomever will have to make the final book decision (presumably Biddy herself in consultation with some committee), because any choice is likely to alienate as many people as it excites. As I was mulling over nomination ideas, it occurred to me that a book on religion--perhaps particularly on religious pluralism--might be an appropriate choice, given the state of the world and our bitter divisions. But how do you choose one that's appropriately imaginative, informative, challenging, fair, and rigorous? Is fiction or non-fiction a better incubator for discussion? Is topical even the way to go? (If so, would something about our nation or world's infrastructure, technological/scientific literacy, or financial, educational, or food systems be more timely?) Is there any hope of fostering a thoughtful and sensitive discussion on such a large scale (even via a large number of class-or-smaller-sized discussions)? What do you think?
Drop us a comment if you've got a book idea, religious or otherwise. And consider dropping Chancellor Martin a similar line here.