literary butterfly

After a phase of reading lots in the summer, I paused for a few months to watch The West Wing (complete set on sale, you see, and so very addictive).  Now it’s reading time again, and I find I’m like a  four year old let loose at an Easter egg hunt.   A few pages here, then catch a glint of colour from across the room, read there for a while, then get distracted…

I was trying to think, yesterday, what  book I last  finished.  I still haven’t quite figured it out.  ‘Last started’ is easy…  ‘Last started’ and the ten other books ‘started, enjoyed, but not yet finished’ that are sitting by my chair.  So which shall I choose tonight?

(These are in balancing order, if you were wondering.)

John Buchan, Witch Wood.   I began this one during a short phase of West Wing overdose at Christmas.  Enjoying it well enough, but I do wonder why I ever read so many of his books.  (Those of you who know the answer, hush now.)

Heather Wood, Third Class Ticket.  This was a book chosen for the church book group that I was so sure I did not want to read.  ‘Travel books’ rarely interest me, and out-of-print travel books make me all the more suspect.  So, I began reading it two days before the meeting with a sense of dread.  I loved it, and did little but read for two days (well, in-between things, of course).  It is a fascinating story of people moving well beyond their comfort zone and revising their sense of themselves and the world.  There is a remarkable chapter when the elders of the village visit the university and are overwhelmed by the beauty and wonder of the books.    Too many good bits to name.   Try to find it if you can…

Ross Thompson, Spirituality in Season.  This was another book I didn’t expect much from.  I bought it rapidly, hoping it might be useful for people in the congregation who needed a stronger sense of the liturgical year.  It’s been superb– drawing lots of familiar threads together, with clever gems and mirrors woven in to keep ideas glinting.   I can’t tell you how many ‘if only’ liturgies it’s lead me to (the ‘if onlies’ involving time, space, children, and lack-of-triplicate).

Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe.   The jury is still out:  do I prefer string theory or chaos theory?  Greene has not yet convinced me that the strings are beautiful, but I am not far in yet.

Elizabeth Garner, The Ingenious Edgar Jones.  A curious curious book about an extraordinary birth, an extraordinary child, and the struggle to live with the remarkable.   I’m not far into this one either, but suspect it might be a rare and memorable novel.

James Joyce, Ulysses.  One day I will finish it.  Every time I start, I love it; every time I stop because I haven’t the time.

Michael Arditti, Easter.  The book group has just chosen to read this, so I really must look at it again before lending it away.  I have read it twice over the years, and found it interesting both times.  Will it live for a third time?

Moltmann, Experiences in Theology.  I recommended it to Kate the other day, and realised I wanted to read it again.  So, I’ve just been dabbling.  Can I justify re-reading with so many virgin books on the shelf?

James Alison, On Being Liked.  I have enjoyed the first half of this book several times now.  It is my ferry book, and I keep forgetting where I stopped reading.  Do you suppose I really have finished it, and just didn’t notice?

Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being.  I’ve talked about this one before — and am not very much further than I was last time.  It may be the theological equivalent of Ulysses.

Robert Robertson, Vegan Planet.  … because cookbooks make good bed-time reading, and I’m considering keeping and age-old Lenten custom.  (the recipes are much more interesting than you might think — and did you know that you can use ground linseeds & water as an egg replacement in baking?)

13 thoughts on “literary butterfly

  1. Marion the Joyce of theology? And I was considering picking up God without Being . . . . (if it ever gets returned to the library)

  2. Marion :: Joyce only in that my inability to finish it has more to do with time and focus than content.

    The Moltmann is a much ‘easier’ book than most, aimed at a wider audience. He’s reflection on the business of being a theologian and gives good critique of much of what was happening in 20th C. theology.

  3. What an interesting collection! To think that we all have such different stuff tucked away in our memories – no wonder we sometimes wonder at one another. On the other hand, a shared literary background is a wonderful discovery.

  4. Should you need an interesting read you might not think of allow me to recommend ‘Toast’ Nigel Slater – it is not at all what you might expect. It s superb.

  5. ‘A few pages here, then catch a glint of colour from across the room, read there for a while, then get distracted…’

    Oh how I relate to this….

    I bought Moltmann but haven’t gotten round to reading it quite yet. I am, however, thoroughly enjoying the Lossky book you also recommended (and even managed to work apophatic theology into a tutorial discussion this afternoon – hurray!!)

  6. Yes. Something like that. 🙂

    But the response after the silence was quite interesting. Some of the students who have been struggling with the language used for God and some of the theology being taught got really excited about the possibility that *gasp* there are other traditions and other ways of speaking (or not speaking?) of God. Those who have had their images and understanding of God reinforced by what we’re reading tried to dismiss it as New Age trendy nonsense, which made me want to both laugh and cry.

    The fact that this split was also along gender lines was also striking. But that can also be because the girls in the tutorial group are far more mature in their thinking than the boys, and the boys are mostly from quite conservative evangelical churches while most of the girls are either un-churched or middle of the road CofE.

  7. sounds like you did a good day’s work.

    I never quite understood the prevalence of pretty, bright, fairly-agnostic girls at New College. They can’t want to marry conservative evangelicals, can they? (courtship being the reason that most pretty young things choose bizzare courses). I found it all the more strange with the few pretty young things who were men, though at least there, I could let myself believe that they had committed four years to taunting political protest.

  8. Slater’s book is an off beat account of an erratic father, a mother who died young and a step mother who made his adolescence more problematic than it needed to be, and his own sexual awakening. It is beautifully written, not least in what he gives one to understand about his own youthful limitations of understanding.

    Years ago at St Mary’s most of the young men were stodgy and very limited. I well remember Paddy Best remarking in a tutorial that the charge of heresy lost a lot of its impact when you no longer had a stake outside to burn the heretic at. It was me they were up for burning.

  9. ‘other traditions and other ways of speaking (or not speaking?) of God’. Oh my yes. When one has spent a long time in a particular community with a fairly narrow range of language and approach/theology (or even a short time – i.e. your unchurched bright young things – but it’s all you know), then the evidence of other traditions can be the most liberating, exciting thing ever – even if it takes a while to sink in and be seized hold of (to mix my metaphors terribly). I had this experience in coming back to Anglican worship after a period of time in a non-denominational Evangelical group in college, and even more so on discovering Ignatian spirituality. Hurray for the good moments in tutorial!

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