Thursday, June 26, 2014

Learning To Walk In The Dark - an enlightening book to read


WATKINS GLEN, New York - Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning To Walk In The Dark is much more an exploration of the human soul - and faith - than the clever title might imply.

But, really, there's plenty of walking in the dark, too - even a short bit on moon gardens.

One of Taylor's main point is about how we are taught to fear the dark - and anything that is dark - from childhood.

As I was reading the book over the past few days, I kept remembering that scene from the movie Poltergeist and the eerie voice of the medium saying, "Go into the light!"

That iconic phrase has become so much a part of our cultural lexicon, that you can almost guarantee that some wag will offer it anytime someone is having a tough time walking at night, stumbling because there isn't enough light to see.

Taylor is an accomplished writer and one-time Episcopal priest. She asks enough questions of the reader that the book sometimes causes you to pull up short.

You have to think about what she's has just said and test it against your own beliefs before moving on. In the newspaper business, we used to call that kind of writing a thumbsucker.

I read a review of the book the New York Times Review of Books, a testimony of the power of that publication to push people to read particular volumes. That said, I picked up the copy I just read at the Watkins Glen Public Library where it will return to the new-book shelves next week.

Don't choose Learning To Walk In The Dark as a summer-reading, lightweight book. But if you want to peek into the darkness - which is not frightening at all, she convinced me - take your time working through it.