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."
"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.