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.
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? […]
Last month at Kenyon’s Gund Gallery, Victoria and I moved among Bethany’s hundred-and-forty-odd, glowing and pulsing sculptures. As our eyes adjusted to the dark, we found that we were becoming part of the installation. It was ourselves, and not the sculptures, that we began to see and understand.
This secret knowledge hid us from later visitors, at least from those who didn’t stay long enough to discover that the sculptures’ lights weren’t static. The lights pulsed neither in unison nor in disregard for one another. I sat under them to see how they got along, much as I spent long stretches on beds of pine needles as a kid wondering how the trees got along.
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 […]
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 – […]