A reluctant reader


I wanted to write a blog entry about something I came across in The Tablet at the end of last week. When I started thinking about it, I realised that The Tablet played a role in my conversion, although it wasn’t anything sudden, more of a steady drip drip effect over the years, and I decided that I needed to first write a post about that.

For those who don’t know, The Tablet is a weekly newspaper which covers national (British) and international news from a Catholic viewpoint. It also contains church news, spiritual reflections and reviews. Close to ten years ago, one of my in-laws gave us a gift subscription to The Tablet and my husband has kept up the subscription ever since.

At first I refused to read The Tablet. Not only was I not a Catholic, but I didn’t want anything to do with religion, and I was wary about reading anything written from a Christian viewpoint in case I felt that I was being preached at or put under pressure to convert. My husband encouraged me to read it for the analysis of international affairs. When he’d finished with each issue, he left it on top of the bed on my side. Sometimes it was easier just to open The Tablet than to move it somewhere else. Soon I was hooked and looking forward to the next issue. I started with the news items, and then went on to the book and film reviews. Anything to do with the church or spirituality was avoided like the plague.

A Catholic world view came across in the news articles, and I was impressed that Catholics cared about issues like poverty or the environment or mental health. I cared very much about the environment. Many years ago I struggled with the view, among some of the Christians I knew, that if God is going to give us a new heaven and a new earth anyway, why bother looking after this one? This attitude was also coloured with the belief that since the earth will be trashed during Armageddon anyway, there is really no point taking care of it. These attitudes contributed to me leaving the church, although they were by no means the only reason. Incidentally, I am challenged, delighted and filled with new hope by the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, but going into my thoughts on this would require a post all to itself.

Nowadays, when I read the Tablet, I enjoy the articles on spirituality and even try to read some of the pieces on church issues although I sometimes give up before I reach the end. Reading an article on an ecclesiastical issue, is like starting to watch a film half-way through, and trying to pick up the thread of the story, as well as struggling to work out unfamiliar concepts such as encyclicals, canon law and papal infallibility. Another bit I always turn to is the Living Spirit section which has quotes from the Bible or other sources. Now and then I have found a few lines which have spoken directly to my situation there and then, but I’ll write more about that in the next post.


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