Nathaniel Martin sailed with his friend and fellow-naturalist Stephen Maturin on two long sea voyages in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, first as the ship's chaplain and later as Maturin's assistant surgeon. Never much of a fist at sermonizing, Martin took to writing and publishing impolitic tracts that offended the Royal Navy Board and prevented him from returning as a chaplain.
Martin lost an eye to an owl, and, as long as Martin's eye was single, O'Brian let him rival Captain Jack Aubrey for Maturin's time and friendship. Martin married between voyages, however, and his newfound obsession with providing for his family began to make him tedious company for Maturin. (Banality is the worst symptom a character can present with in these novels.) Martin's overheated conscience led him to an end straight out of Hawthorne, with whom he shared his first name.
These are the sermons he never wrote.
“The dark night of the soul” has taken on a broad and vague application in our time, and, vague as it is, this application gets us somewhere. Taken alone, the phrase “dark night of the soul” suggests that we have some purpose to our suffering. It introduces us to the idea of a mystery in […]
The chief strength of Merton’s book may be its seeming ability to just get out of the way. Of course, we find Merton’s Fathers hospitable, charitable, and nonjudgmental. But we also meet grouchy Fathers, bizarre Fathers, and seemingly legalistic Fathers. Their stories make us wonder at the sandblasting these souls took to earn their few words.
My friends are having a difficult time with their new god, so they will visit a monastery. It is unclear whether the god will come, too, since the point of the visit is to straighten out my friends’ heads. God training is really people training, my friends like to say, and in truth, it’s never the god’s fault. I guess a god with the finest pedigree can be misshapen by abuse, inattention, or overindulgence.
There cannot be enough books like Zen for Christians, and not only because there cannot be enough sincere spiritual journeys. Kim Boykin’s book is an approachable instruction manual for a form of meditation unfamiliar to many of her fellow Christians. Her clear descriptions of Christian and Zen beliefs as well as her honest appraisal of her […]