A Parable

A Parable


There were two men, Walter and Joe, who both wanted to start a reading club.

First Walter invited ten people to his house to talk about the club. Of these ten, one hated reading, three loved reading but were interested in different books than Walter planned to read, one loved to read and loved the books Walter planned to read, and five didn’t really care one way or another. Walter wanted to make everyone comfortable, so he told them, “In our reading club you only have to read if you really want to, and you don’t even have to read the books I select – you can read anything you want to read. At our meetings we’ll talk about whatever everyone wants to talk about.”

The man who hated to read left and said to himself, “What a waste of time.”

The three who loved reading, but liked different books than Walter said to each other, “Well, Walter seems like a nice guy, but I don’t really see any purpose to this club. Let’s just read on our own.”

The one who loved to read the books Walter wanted to read said, “I like the books in this club, but it doesn’t seem like Walter really does. I might stop in once in a while, but this seems kinda pointless.”

The five who really didn’t care said to each other, “Walter is a great guy, but we are just too busy to join any club right now. Maybe some other time.”

Joe then invited these same people to his house to join his reading club, using the same books as Walter. He said, “In this reading club, you will be required to read these specific books, and we will have serious discussions about them. If you don’t read the book, don’t bother coming to the group, as this is a group only for committed readers.”

The man who hated books left and said to himself, “Joe seems very intense; I respect that. I don’t like to read, but his group sounds interesting. Perhaps I’ll check it out someday.”

The three who loved reading but liked different books than Joe said to each other, “This is intriguing. Joe obviously loves to read, but doesn’t like the books we like.” Two decided to come back to the group and try it out, the other decided to stick with the books he liked.

The one who loved to read the books Joe picked was ecstatic: “This is going to be great! I will really dive into these books and understand them like I’ve never understood them before.”

Of the five who really didn’t care, four said to each other, “Joe is too serious and too harsh. We have no desire to come back to this club.” The fifth, however, realized that he did like to read books, and quietly decided to come back to the club in the future.

The next day, the local newspaper had the headline, “Walter Opens Popular Reading Club”