A Bible, a journal, and three short works.
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.
I want to be a monk. I feel bad about it sometimes. It’s a selfish desire for a married man. Stupid, too: Victoria is my soulmate and beautiful, nine years younger than I, and the work we’ve put in over almost seventeen years of married life has been paying off, we both think. My therapist, [...]
My recent trip to the National Museum of the American Indian reminded me that entire cultures can respect and hear from nature, and that in certain times and places one need not be converted in some fashion to see nature. I don’t live in a time or place like that. Such as it is, my [...]
Is there a sense in which we may safely forget even the greatest words? Do words contain inherent limitations that somehow keep us from the reality they may move us toward? Thomas Merton examines the nature of words in The Way of Chuang Tzu, his paraphrase of works by the fourth century BC Chinese philosopher who [...]
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.
The root of much of my hypocrisy may have been a fundamental misconception of Christianity. I believe I have shared this misconception with many of my evangelical friends for more than twenty years. The misconception? I equated being a follower of Jesus with conversion. They’re not the same. Take me, for instance. I became a [...]