Thursday, 23 September 2010

Beginning my holiday reading ...

So as we tidy up (well sort of a bit) we come across not only books from recent book buying frenzies in Liverpool, London and elsewhere but also magazines that have been been received but not properly opened. For instance several issues of the New Statesman - which come addressed to me and only rarely gets opened by me and often seems to get "lost" in one of Dr B's bags or under a really not at all interesting computer magazine. (Yes, there are limits to my omnivore approach to reading - puter magazines are no longer it, though I did have a brief monthly fling years ago with PC World.)
In the prehistoric piling we also found September's Reform which I am enjoying reading in the late afternoon sunshine, in particular editor Kay Paris' interview with novelist Mailynne Robinson. I was moved by the penultimate question and response:

Q:There is great sadness in your novels. Religion doesn't bring happiness, but it does bring great dimension to the lives of its religious characters.
A:There is great sadness in life, for example at the inevitable end of great happiness, or in the frustration of profound love. Religion makes experience meaningful and sacred - or it expresses the fact that these things are true of experience properly understood. It does indeed add another dimension to experience.
I've been reading reviews and other interviews with Robinson following her recent Absence of Mind here and here and this quote struck a chord from Tim Teeman's interview:

What is her God, I ask ... Robinson looks briefly stumped. “I can write about it, but that’s a big question. The term ‘God’ has a big reality for me but that’s not to say it has definition.” Is “it” a rock? “Yes, but that doesn’t mean I am not vulnerable to everything in the same way as other people.” She had no image of God when growing up. “That never meant anything to me. I was too Protestant,” she laughs. “There are things that exceed language. God is one of those things, pre-eminently and utterly.”
Over on Faith and Theology Ben Myers does not seem so keen on Robinson's most recent novel Home. I hope to find time to read it myself soon. for now all this internet browsing is just whetting my appetite for the feast of reading and sleeping of the two weeks ahead. Here's a little more from Kay Paris' article, the whole of which should I hope be online in a few weeks time once September turns to October.

Marilynne Robinson was raised as a Presbyterian; she worships now as a Congregationalist and remains a staunch apologist for the ideas of John Calvin – particularly in relation to, on the one hand, his contribution to societal principles and culture, and on the other his understanding of the personal sense one can cultivate of the presence of God. “Perception is at the centre of Calvin’s theology… the great energy that rips galaxies apart also animates our slightest thoughts,” she said during a recent interview for Christianity Today – and it is for us to struggle endlessly between centering on this vision of God in the living of our lives, or giving in to self-centredness.