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.
Job is like Lear. The curtain opens on a fairy tale. In it, the play’s chief authority, God (or King Lear in Lear), cuts a dubious deal, relinquishes authority and, in the process, does his most loyal subject a bad turn. When the fairy tale fades, the dialog develops between the newly minted sufferer and […]
That quality of hyperalertness is one of the things that has fueled the writing of this blog. Always searching, thinking forward to the next post. Hyperalertness has an addictive power of its own. During this window then, I think it will be better to obligate myself as little as possible. I want to relax the […]
Thoughts while reading Merton & Friends: A Joint Biography of Thomas Merton, Robert Lax, and Edward Rice, by James Harford I feel a tension between my devotional life and my love of writing. I have recognized this tension also in the writings of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, a modern-day contemplative and a gifted writer. I […]
To my Protestant ear, the title of John Anthony McGuckin’s collection of meditations sounds suspicious. I’ve had books with similar titles (and covers) thrust at me at airports. But a good deal of my suspicion was grounded in Protestantism’s general suspicion of mysticism. The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations of the Soul’s Ascent from the […]
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 […]