Always Sometimes Often in pursuit of intellectual adequacy excellence, I check out non-fiction books from the library.

Topics range from biographies (for instance: do YOU know who Nancy Cunard was?), to “Caring for your aging dog,” to feminist fare (“Are men necessary?: when sexes collide”-which I still haven’t read after checking out twice) to “Carved in sand: when attention fails and memory fades in midlife” to “The daylily: a guide for gardeners.” *

One pursuit is inarguably my LONGEST pursuit though. Over the years I’ve checked out numerous books on non-canonical biblical history and have even read some of them.

Non-canonical are books that never made it into the bible because they were deemed ‘not ready for prime time’ (i.e.-not approved by the catholic church as “real enough”—“canon”**). Thus, they weren’t taught or even acknowledged during my 13 (yes, I said thirteen) years of catholic education.

Once I found out they existed I was pissed nobody ever mentioned them even in passing. I mean, regardless of your faith upbringing, had you heard of the Gospel of Mary before ‘The DaVinci Code’ came out?! I’m betting no.

The topic keeps drawing me back because I (rebel without a cause) want to know what “the others” thought—the ones who didn’t make it into the big book.

Anyhoo, I’ve had 2 books out the WHOLE summer. One, “Lost scriptures: books that did not make it into the New Testament,” I finally returned, an acknowledgement of defeat. This was after having renewed it twice (i.e.-I’d had it out for NINE weeks).

I still have the other one (“The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot”), and I’m bound and determined to finish it just to prove I can. I have one more 3-week renewal left, after which I’ll have to return it.

Oh darn. That’ll mean I’ll have had it out since June 29. It’s not that big a book either—only 224 pages, including the approx. 500 pages of footnotes.

But I find myself getting to the end of a page not knowing what I’ve just read. It’s as though all I do is read the words “Jesus” or “apostles” or “Luke” or “Irenaeus” (seriously) and mentally—if not physically—my eyes glaze over.

It’s not necessarily that the description is boring (note I said “necessarily”) but it’s almost Pavlovian, the way I read certain “key words” (e.g.-Jesus, Moses, Luke) and I tune out. My eyes glaze over, and I have to either re-read it or skip to the juicy parts (both of them). Otherwise, it’s like religion class all over again, only with a masochistic twist.

I know this hurts the many people who have tried to ensure my spiritual development and entry into heaven (albeit by scaring me with the fear of hell) but I’m not trying to offend here.

The point is that I find it fascinating that all these years after catholic schools and 14,763 masses/weddings/funerals/baptisms/C___ (catholic equivalent of bat mitzvah–can’t think of word***), I am apparently psychologically incapable of paying attention to those “jesusy” words whose intent is to (do the opposite and) draw me in to my spiritual side.

So I’m still slogging it through Judas: 102 pages down, 80 to go before the footnotes start. I will have had it for 12 weeks WHEN I finish it. It’s the longest short book I have ever read.

PS: Please don’t ask me what the Book of Judas actually says. I can, however, tell you the story of the author’s “undercover” trip to Switzerland to only see (not photograph or write notes) this ancient decrepit manuscript whose provenance was murky at best, illegal at worst. THAT’S what’s kept me reading.

PSS: If you’ve made it this far you are either religious and don’t go narcoleptic when you read the “J” word, or because we were raised similarly.

PSSS: Wondering why I can “remember” all these book titles? It’s because they were ALL overdue because I procrastinated reading them for so long. The library lists your fines due on their site until you pay up.

*Note to self: Find out why all non-fiction books have catchy short title-ette, then a ” : ” then the real name of the book.

**Defn. of canon from Princeton’s Wordnet: “body of rules or principles generally established as valid and fundamental”

***Note to self: Re-read “Carved in sand : when attention fails and memory fades in midlife”

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