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.
A return to the Bible’s, the Constitution’s, or any poem’s text, then, isn’t a call to humorless literalism or to a strict constructionism that can’t distinguish between letter and spirit. It’s the slow and repeated enjoyment of a text that won’t be squeezed for, and then discarded in favor of, some dogma or other envenoming essence. It’s an emphasis on story and language and oral expression that might have us, like the Lord, speaking not in theories but in parables, and grounding ourselves in the serious play of prosody.
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.
Bethany makes all of my icons. She doesn’t mean to. She just loves art. And I never meant to have icons. I have iconoclastic, evangelical roots, and brothers would use words like “projection” to discourage one another from using visual aids in meditation and prayer. But now I’m more open to images, memories, sounds – […]
I was drawn again to the Eastern Orthodox Church this summer by reading about the spiritual life on Mt. Athos and in monasteries associated with Mt. Athos elsewhere. The main thrust of Kyriacos C. Markides’s books, The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality and Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian […]