Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is traditionally a time of fasting, of reflection, and of remembering who we as humans are, what we have done, and what we have failed to do—and who loves us, in whose path we follow. Fasting or self-discipline, whatever shape these take depending on the tradition of Christianity to which you belong, provokes these remembrances of our limitations and spurs us on towards transformation. Lent is about truthfulness, and the places that truthfulness leads us. In Lent, we imitate Christ in his humility by rejecting easy ways to power, domination, and lies about ourselves and the way the world works.
This year’s Old Books with Grace Lent series, called “A Book that Changed Me,” offers four different conversations with guests on a book of their choice that changed them, made them think deeply about transformation, brought them closer to truth. Books can be mirrors—they can help us to consider ourselves in new light. Books invite us into conversation and reflection we would not have known to participate in without their guidance. Each of the guests in this series has chosen a book that invited them into reflection, remembrance, and self-knowledge. Each conversation is quite different—some more personal, others less—and the books span from the Middle Ages to the 1960s. And if you’re inspired, I’d love to hear about a book that changed you, on social media (find me on Instagram @oldbookswithgrace or on Twitter, @gracehammanphd). My first guest of the series is Joy Clarkson, who has chosen to talk about George Eliot’s wonderful tale about the avaricious weaver changed by love, Silas Marner.
Dr. Joy Clarkson is the author of Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life, and a research associate in theology and literature at King’s College, London. She received her doctorate in theology from St Andrews University, where she researched the ways we can use art to prepare ourselves for a good death. She hosts a podcast, Speaking with Joy, and is the Books & Culture editor at Plough Quarterly.
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