Thursday, January 22, 2009


A few years ago, a good friend gave me a subscription the The Sun magazine. I have clear memories of many occasions of clutching it to myself and weeping as I read it on the subway on my way to work. Although some of the writing was trite and the editorial stance predictable, there was usually something in each month's issue that would just kick me to the ground. Usually it was the "Readers Write" section, to which readers sent in their own meditations on a prescribed topic. The writing ability of that magazine's general readership was of an outstandingly high level, especially with respect to the ability to get right to the point using an economy of language.

I eventually stopped subscribing, mostly because of The Sun's well-worn hostility to traditional (i.e. Western) religions. Christianity was generally treated to reinterpretations from Gnostic gurus, or became the foil for a writer's reminiscence about his grandmother or about growing up in a tough ethnic neighborhood (in which case the Christianity was always of the Catholic variety). But there was one frequent contributor who was a professed Catholic, and whose work I usually found both moving and bitingly funny. Her name is Heather King, and I've just started reading her new book, Redeemed (pictured above).

I think I'm going to like it. She opens with an epigraph by Wittgenstein:

"The Christian religion is only for one who needs infinite help. That is, only for one who feels infinite anguish . . . The Christian faith -- as I see it -- is one's refuge in this ultimate torment. Anyone to whom it is given in this anguish to open his heart, instead of contracting it, accepts the means of salvation in his heart."

King explains:

"I don't know about you, but this is the kind of quote that makes me feel right at home."

I'm down with that.


Maclin said...

Me, too.

Robot Boy said...

That part about 'in need of infinite help' sounds about right.

Pentimento said...

Did you know that Wittgenstein once lived on the old sod, RB?

Maclin said...

Does that mean you're Irish, Pentimento? For some reason I had the idea you were Italian.

Pentimento said...

You're right, Maclin, I am Italian. But my husband is Irish, and Robot Boy is, too.

Dwight said...

I'm Christian and I noticed the same thing. It's a common theme in The Sun Magazine (and other places) to conclude that the Christian religion is anything but what Christ said it is. In most cases, it's either expressed to be merely decorative or downright offensive. However, that type of honest expression is one of the reasons I enjoy The Sun. I want to know what non-Christians and even professed Christians genuinely think and feel about life, love, trying crises, painful events, alternate lifestyles, and death. The Sun covers some heavy topics and I appreciate the deep honesty of the writers, whether or not I agree with them.

Pentimento said...

I agree, Dwight, there are some great things about The Sun. I got annoyed with the recent interview with Andrew Harvey and it was after that that I let my subscription lapse. But I let it lapse a few years ago too after an interview with someone who spoke highly of St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and Thomas Merton, while almost in the same paragraph he trashed orthodox believers as being "less evolved" than people who don't need to cling to such restrictive forms of worship. It was an eye-roller.