In the spirit of connecting modern readers to great books from the Christian tradition, the Adamantius Book Club favors “forgotten classics.” These are works virtually unknown to modern readers and tend to be ignored by seminaries and graduate schools, even if they once enjoyed enormous influence and praise in former centuries. The Adamantius Book Club aims to promote “lost” books from the Christian tradition that deserve a wider readership and are certain to delight and edify.
WHY THE NAME?
So why not call it “The Obscure Christian Books Club”? Adamant is a make-believe element with a long pedigree in ancient myth. It was said to be indestructible. In the third century, the title Adamantius, meaning “man of adamant,” was applied to Origen of Alexandria to signify his unwearying study of the Scriptures. In this manner, the ascetic practice of reading is taken as a sign of Divine life, which alone is indestructible.
In the Medieval period, the element adopted a second feature: magnetism. This is the sense in which John Donne would use it in his first Holy Sonnet in the seventeenth-century. After lamenting how sin has hardened his soul, he cries to the Father:
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his [the devil’s] art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.
Adamant is thus construed as the Divine “element” of Love whereby the Divine draws all things unto Himself. The true “Man of Adamant,” therefore, is Christ himself.
HOW TO JOIN?
The Club is not based on shared ideology or intellectual agreement, but on friendship. The views of members are often varied and contrary. Besides a love for Christ and a desire for holiness, friendship is usually the only thing members have in common. This is also, I think, the strength of selecting primary sources: They enjoy enough distance from our modern squabbles to make it easier for diverse persons to meet and discuss peaceably. For this reason, new members are acquired through invitation only. You must know someone who is already in the Club.
If you are not friends with a current member, consider starting a book club of your own. The Adamantius model is simple. We never read more than thirty pages a week. We meet once a week for about an hour at a time agreed upon by all members. (These meetings are recorded in case other members can’t attend that day.) At least three people need to attend regularly. If six or more attend, meetings may need to be extended another half hour. If nine or more attend, consider splitting meetings into separate, smaller groups.
A host must be nominated for each group. A host’s job is to guide the conversation, deliver prompts when there is a lull, ensure everyone has a say, and keep things interesting.