So, we're reading Susan Jacoby's book on American Secularism in my book club. We started to discuss it last week, but mostly wandered around during the discussion on other topics related to atheism. It was a serious and very productive beginning discussion, but we didn't spend much actual time discussing the basis of American secularism or much that was in the book (it didn't help that most of us hadn't finished it, but it was announced on short notice) (not that I mind that, we still had, I think, 12 people attending).
At the beginning of our discussion, I happen to mention that the topic of American secularism is one that I have done considerable independent research on in my academic studies. I further aggravate the situation by mentioning my dissatisfaction with that fact that she (Jacoby) doesn't seem to go into the philosophy that acted as an undercurrent to what was going on at the time. As an undergraduate at the University of Houston, I studied early American political thought along with ancient political theory, and consequently, know quite a bit more than even your average atheist about the topic. My first class, on returning to academia, was a graduate class that was tremendously influential on the way I thought about my earlier studies, and gave me a completely different understanding of how to look at political thought, along with a few new people that my previous studies had completely ignored (how on earth could they have ignored Kant?!!). One might even call it revolutionary.
Of course, as we are getting ready to leave, Dee (the organizer of the book discussion group) asks if I would volunteer to share a bit of what I know on the subject. My mouth reacts without the approval of my brain and says yes, but immediately I regret it. I have a horror of speaking in front of people, and I've only done it about 3-4 times in my life. So, I'm stuck. This is a topic that I know a lot about, and I think that what I have to say would really help clarify the subject in people's minds, but I have doubts about whether I can actually speak about it coherently in front of people.
Dee's already written it into the invitation announcement for the next book club meeting that I'll be speaking for about 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. Ay yi yi!