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.
“Teach us to pray,” a student asks. So Jesus compares God to an unloving friend. He loans bread, but he doesn’t give it. He loans bread to his friend not because he’s a friend but because he’s pestered.
Later, teaching on prayer again, Jesus compares God to an unjust judge. The judge gives justice not because he’s a judge – he owns that he neither fears God nor respects men – but because he’s pestered.
We get these comparisons, but we don’t get the contrasts. As a result, our prayer is based not on friendship or justice but on magic and importunity.
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 […]
I discovered the work on my mother’s devotional shelf when I visited my parents over Christmas. One page I randomly turned to spoke to me in my discouragement about my writing. The discouragement felt vaguely productive. It had the feel of a winter field with the hoe and the scythe stored somewhere in the shed. It felt like a Twachtman painting, or at least of the one I enjoy at the Phillips. It’s as if Twachtman in all that snow couldn’t farm; all he could do was paint.
When the day comes, many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Out of my sight; your deeds are evil!” (Matthew 7:22-23 – REB) But now […]
Work is easing out. I’m able to ride my bike after school on nice days, like yesterday. A big rainstorm hit, so I got off the trail at a campground and bivouacked under a large picnic shelter. “Is the universe friendly?” I must add Einstein’s question to my inquiry-based learning approach. To be a good […]