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 […]
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 […]
Jesus puts a riddle to the twenty-first century church: Among those born of women there has not arisen greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Where does this leave John? Could “the least in the kingdom of heaven” be his new rival? […]
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, […]