Just before I entered seminary in the Autumn of 1982, an acquiantance recommended a particular book to me. Indeed, he said that this book should be compulsory reading for all seminarians. He seemed to think that there was a very important message in this novel for all aspiring seminarians. So, I took up his recommendation and acquired a copy of David Lodge's novel "How far can you go".
It was as though in an instant I was introduced, through this book, into the whole malestrom of dissaffection with Christianity which I had somehow skipped over in the past decade. The book was trying to describe how far a Christian could go in trying to live according to the world's lights, and still call himself a Christian.
I should have asked my acquaintance why he thought all seminarians should read this book. The book was a real 'turn off' for me, for I couldn't understand why anyone who wanted to follow Christ would actually try to put a huge distance between Christ and himself. Of course, from another point of view, this novel introduced me for to a whole growing culture, among British Catholics, of dissaffection with the Church and the Christian Life, which I would not encounter again until I returned from seminary in Spain six years later.