Saturday, April 10, 2010

A good argument for wider reading

There is a discrete and fulfilling comment by Doug on the short article XXII here. It is a part of his excellent series on the articles of religion from the Anglican prayer book. Church is a wide concept - do I dare be open and naked in the great assembly, in the presence of a great cloud of witnesses? I will be what I must be whether alone or not.

I also thought a bit overnight on John Hobbins note about what to read to read the Bible (yes I meant that doubling but without the intensity that Hebrew would give the phrase).

You can't understand the Bible until 'x' - you fill in the blank. What does one know? I think whatever we know, there is a call to us not to name drop to make a point and not to be culturally naive about our own limited backgrounds. John is of course not of a single culture or language and he may have been speaking to Americans - but they are not exactly monolithic either. So why Ovid or Milton or Blake - why not Donne and Herbert or Dante? Why first? Why read for understanding?

It is that last point that I wonder about - understanding is power. We need it but mustn't seek it. All my own silent blathering from this morning I can remember a bit: - 'seek me first says the Lord' or 'you read the Scriptures thinking that in them you have eternal life - but these scriptures point to me and you do not come to me for life'. These are the critical sayings. Yes perhaps in whatever culture we have, Our Lord will then lead us to other witnesses - like Northrope Frye - who very carefully points away from himself. It's not the answers that are important but the development of fuller and better questions.

So who should we read first? Nothing? Everything? Is reading even important?

John has given us a koan of marvelous simplicity from Rudy Wiebe. “it is nothing for one to drink alone when there are two by the fire” (Believe it or not, I studied writing under Rudy Wiebe's direction one summer here in Victoria.)

This morning I was rummaging around and uncovered a book on St John of the Cross - I wonder if I am old enough to read it now.

One day I will go back to my story writing. Perhaps there I will find a way to explore Church and governance and other things. Analytical exploration seems too narrow.

Here's a silly collage of anthurium - we blossom and flourish as leaves on a tree and wither and perish but naught changeth thee - or should that be nought or know't? And what does it mean to be unchangeable anyway? Unchangeable in mercy and compassion I think - or ever changing in creativity and redemption.
From Collages


  1. Thanks for this, Bob.

    Wider reading, we've both discovered, serves the goal very well of allowing ourselves to be interpreted by one book in particular, Scripture.

    And what a fine writer, Rudy Wiebe.

  2. John - thanks for the note. It occurred to me later that we must also read God's other book - the creation. That is why I so delight in the thought experiments and the work of science. Last night we watched part 2 of the Hunting the Edge of the Universe on Nova - it was a very good intro to astronomy though perhaps a little overdone on graphic effects.

    I am continuing to push some difficult questions - not the usual ones, but ones that I don't think can be adequately answered simply by those who have memorized the answers of the past. Yet I must also respect these 'answers' especially when they raise fuller and better questions.

    Sometimes I think I may be a bit rude in my questioning. But as the Scripture records - love covers a multitude of sins.