Tag Archives: books
I’m excited to be visiting two Chicago churches in October to talk about Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance. First up will be Augustana Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry in Hyde Park, a place that’s very important to me. The Wednesday night services in Lent brought me to worship for good, […]
I collect these comments for my own benefit as much as to persuade anyone else to buy and/or read my book (though you should–it’s good and I’m proud of it). Being a writer without any formal credentials, institutional affiliation, or prominent personal platform is a disorienting vocation. I’ve taken every opportunity that’s been given me by friends and colleagues, worked up a few of my own, and relied a great deal on friends for advice and counsel. But I’ve never been very intentional about any of it. Part of the reason I started this site was to pull together pieces that sprawl across the internet like sheep without a shepherd. For ten years (not counting the years of pointlessly prolific blogging before that) I’ve been sending them out and seeing what happens to them before moving on to the next story, review, exegetical essay, or argument.
But these murder novels are different inasmuch as the murders are all somehow about something. Something that real-life murders are almost never about. Tom Ripley and Richard Papen are interlopers in more leisured classes than their own, and most readers probably know what that’s like. It can prompt envy, certainly, but also the insight that one knows things that they don’t know, that there are skills they’ve never had to develop.
On June 27 at 7 p.m. I’ll be at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church (178 Bennett Avenue, a short walk from the 1 and the A) to talk about Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance.
I didn’t stay there. If I were assured of a hundred more years to live I don’t know that I would ever read Niebuhr again. Part of the problem with the blazing sunset era of high Protestant theology was that its authors sought to provide us with a place to stand–where faith and reason, revelation and science all worked together–when all they could offer was a point of transit. From the perspective of one moving out of Christian faith, however defined, those points of transit seem feeble and dishonest. For one moving into it, they can seem necessary and providential. Christians have a tendency to ask for kinds of assurance, whether from theological faculties, great collections of bishops, or second-century papyrus, that none of these can give. Our needs and our doubts give shape to the theories of revelation or ecclesiology or whatever else that we may then point to in order to meet them.
It wasn’t until I’d been preaching and writing like this for a number of years that the pathos of John Ames’s sermons in Gilead, boxed up in the attic and waiting for his post-mortem bonfire, really hit home. I was exposed to a massive dose of T.S. Eliot at an off-label age, and I was perhaps too complacent with his running theme of the life and death of words and their meanings. “These things have served their purpose; let them be,” I learned by heart before I had made much of anything to be attached to in the first place. Now I’m a million-odd words deep into a vocation whose tangible products are subject to nearly instant forgetting, recycling, the half-life of modest virality, and the onset of linkrot, and I am tempted to be less philosophical.
The season’s meager forays into discomfort can only show how very different fasting is from true hunger, let alone hunger imposed and enforced as a policy. Self-imposed penance for the sins of the world is an impossibility; it can even be a perverse delusion. Nothing in that world can be assimilated to our prostrations or hair shirts. “Weep not for me, but for yourselves,” as Jesus says
(Note: I wrote this in July 2010. While none of it is left there, it helped prompt me to write a book) Last week I went to a local establishment to watch some baseball and read Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being. In retrospect it was a comical choice. On the screen I watch the momentary […]
When you write compulsively, people will tell you by way of encouragement or indulgence that you should write a book. The logic of it may not be quite clear, but it can be very persuasive all the same. I heard this and said it to myself over the years, lacking only a firm grasp on […]
In recent years I’ve been easing my way back into scary fiction and the less gruesome sort of horror films. I am strictly a dilettante here; I can highly recommend Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House if you want a book, and recent films like It Follows, The Babadook, Let the Right One In, […]