One day I was sitting in the lunchroom where I worked, thoroughly engaged in reading a novel by Kurt Vonnegut. His books have always made me laugh even as they challenged my thinking, and it must have been the snort of mirth I released that made Carl determine that this would be a good time to interrupt me.

“Whatcha reading?” he asked, gently closing the Bible that sat on the table in front of him as a sign he wanted to chat. Honestly, I didn’t want to talk right then, as I was kind of lost in my book, but I knew the polite response would be to answer him. So, I did.

“It’s a really great novel by Kurt Vonnegut,” I answered, holding it up so he could see the cover.

“Hmmm,” was his only response, and I detected a disapproving tone in it.

“Yeah, Vonnegut is so creative and such a great cultural critic,” I offered.


“Have you read any of his books?” I asked, thinking it likely that he had at least been assigned Cat’s Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five at some point.

“Nope. I don’t really have time for reading fiction,” he explained. “I mostly just want to read books that will help me in my life or help me grow closer to God. Life is too short to read about things that never really happened. I figure that if I mostly just read the Bible, I am going to learn everything I need to know.” He knew that I was a Christian, so I imagine he thought I would find this convicting somehow.

As we chatted further, I learned that he also didn’t go see movies unless they had a strong Christian message (or at least no swearing or dirty bits), that he rarely listened to anything other than worship music, and that, outside the Bible, ...

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