I’ve been engrossed in The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels (Europa Editions). The series follows the friendship of Elena (the narrator) and Lila (her fiery and fearless friend) from girlhood to old age.
Eggers’s novel is about a mega social network corporation that takes over the world—seemingly benevolently. Its characters have no depth or soul; their personhood is defined by electronic connectedness.
Brother to a Dragonfly, by Will D. Campbell (Continuum). Will Campbell distrusts institutions, the religious enterprise, and faith that is too settled. He’s often irreverent, finds church in a tavern, and will offer visitors a sip of whiskey and call it communion (so I hear).
On the darkest day of the year, the Incas tried to tie the sun down. The Zunis kept their fire indoors and let the trash pile up in their dwellings; Zoroastrians stayed up all night and read poetry. Wild women tore the god Dionysus to pieces and ate him. There were winter solstice rituals that involved pig snouts, ghosts, the river Nile turning into wine.
The ancient church fathers struggled with the physical implications of the incarnation—the mother’s womb, the birth and afterbirth. God gets a human body, orthodoxy has always proclaimed: a human body rife with bacteria, hormones and phlegm. Tertullian insists that God became fully human, though he recounts the details with some distaste.
I have a recurring bad dream. It is similar to the one where you realize
it’s time for the final exam and you haven’t been to class all
semester. I used to have that dream. Now my recurring anxiety dream is
of a wedding. Somehow I forgot to write the homily. I don’t have the
The psalmist has a body, and it figures prominently in his poetry. His kidneys lash him, his heart rejoices, his pulse (or liver) beats with joy. His body is not gross matter imprisoning him; it pulsates, breathes, dwells securely and participates fully in the overflowing joy and delight he feels in God’s right hand forever. Heart-pulse-body-flesh-joy-delight.
This passage has all the elements of a scary story. Jesus and the
disciples get into a boat and a horrible storm comes up. The disciples
scream that they are going to die, reach the shore, step out onto
land—and find themselves in a graveyard where a naked demon-possessed
man is wandering about.
When you have long hair and perfumed oil and kissing feet and a sinful
woman in the same pericope, it’s hard not to think of sex. No wonder
Christian commentary has for centuries assumed that this woman is a
Wisdom seems like something you find after
many years, something elusive, like an old Indian in a cave in the
desert. You might have to fast if you want to get a glimpse of her, or
trek up to an altitude of 20,000 feet to a Buddhist monastery in Nepal,
lead a contemplative life, do lots of reading.