Sunday, October 19, 2008

Musings on a Couple of Books

I finished Home by Marilynne Robinson last night (too late unfortunately). I have complained about Jan Karon's Mitford series because it is so sappy. Nothing is ever that pat, that sweet in a minister's life (at least no pastors I know). And Philip Gulley I think has an equally sweet series. I want someone to write about a pastor's life as it really is. Home is a follow up to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead. But it is the most depressing book I've read lately. There is a glimmer, a brief glimmer, a possibility of grace and happiness at the very end. My life is filled with too much sadness: a parishioner with no children dying alone in the hospital, a marriage torn asunder by the husband's misdeed, alcoholism, (to clarify, neither mine) a dying church unwilling to change, friends with crippling diseases, growing old myself, the specter of cancer returning. I have decided I really don't want to read any more books that describe life as it really is. I'm back to my murder mysteries. Crossan and Reed's In Search of Paul is next on my nonfiction reading list.

I was reading The Shattered Lantern which someone's blog recommended this afternoon. I was struck by the author's insistence that one must enter the dark night of the soul in order to enter into God's presence. To do that, one must give up sensual pleasures. I may be misquoting or misunderstanding, but the idea of aestheticism bothers me. Jesus was not an aesthetic. He loved life; he loved eating and drinking; he loved being with people. He must have experienced God in his life. So, how do we square the need to become aesthetics to properly experience God with the model of Jesus? I think that God created the world and all that is in it. I believe God created the world so that we can experience God's presence through the world. I believe God reveals God's self in creation. I believe God gave us good food to enjoy. I believe God gives us relationships and joy. So, the aesthetic troubles me. It seems to me that it is denying God's gifts. On the other hand, I could just be wrong.