Radiant Knowledge

I try not to miss book group.

It is in part because of the books. But it’s way more
because of the women.

They’re brilliant.

I could opt for a less hyperbolic adjective like smart or
intelligent or even intellectual; they are all of those. But whenever I try to
explain this group to others the word that invariable rises to the top is
simply: brilliant.

But its members are not who you might envision. At all.

As fairly homogeneous as they outwardly appear, the group intellect
is somewhat eclectic –a Picasso painting hung above a Louis XVI cabinet; Old
Testament vs. new Constitution. The PhD often acquiesces her train of thought
to the postal worker. The English teacher sends kudos to a new view of an old

In discussion, the group members all pull from literature
they’ve read, but even more so from the lives they’ve led. They have different
educational strengths and backgrounds, view the world through a prism of
perspectives. They get that not everyone’s path was paved with paper, that
learning isn’t just about classrooms and books, that much of an intellectual pursuit
comes from a willingness to open one’s mind. And they do just that. They share
an eagerness to look anew at classic literature, to amend perceptions, to rethink
old thoughts. They also share a common trait: they are all lifelong learners. Will
always be.

Karen doesn’t allow us to give thumbs up or down to our
books as we begin our discussion (although she knows if she’s late, it’s the
first thing we mutineers will do) and although we protest, I think I understand
from where she comes. This group isn’t about judgment; it’s about acceptance.
We don’t have to like a book to discuss its placement among the classics. We
don’t have to agree with an author’s point-of-view to absorb the content of his
work. There’s merit in this reading, even when it’s difficult, perhaps
particularly when it is.

But even if sometimes I don’t like the book—sorry Karen—I
always love the book group.