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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Lectio divina is like reading poetry: we need to slow down, to savor what we read, and to allow the text to trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness. Michael Casey’s comparison of poetry and meditation (lectio divina being perhaps the most flexible and durable in the Christian tradition) in his […]
I often find myself collecting quotes not to comment on them but simply to juxtapose them, to put them on the same page and watch them defend, refute, or qualify one another. A really good pairing seems to create an energy, and sometimes a friendship, much like imaginative and successful pairings among guests at a dinner party. And by the time my quotes have found their place cards, I find I have nothing to say and less reason to say it.