Thursday, May 08, 2008

You are what you read...

C.S. Lewis is said to have said:
“A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be to careful of his reading.”
It seems that ex-Premier of New South Wales, the very urbane and honourable Bob Carr, has managed to avoid reading the "wrong" books while recommending to a new generation his own canon of "right" books in a new book all of his own called: My Reading Life.

I listened to this interview with Rachel Kohn on the ABC's Spirit of Things today. I must say that I have never been very "high brow" in the matter of reading matter. (No Nietzsche, sorry, PE.) I've been to a Patrick White play and hated it. I like Shakespeare (he's good entertainment) and Jane Austen (whom Carr has not read according to the interview) and Dickens, all because they are a good read. And I read theology "voraciously" (to quote my wife). But I have never touched Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal, Primo Levi or Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I've read Orwell's 1948, Camus' The Outsider, and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. But I far rather curl up with a Douglas Adams or a Terry Pratchett novel, or a Hornblower or Bolitho sea adventure, or a P.G. Wodehouse farce!

Most notable is Carr's comments on religion (which, of course, is why Kohn was interviewing him). It seems that Geza Vermes and A.N. Wilson are his authorities on the matter, but he is convinced that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius lived "in the 2nd century after Jesus but before Christ, if you know what I mean". No, sorry Bob, I don't know what you mean, and I'm not sure if you do either, because not much later you say that
Yes, someone put Vermes's book in front of me and said that the Fourth Gospel, 'you've got to understand that'. That's when Christ was invented.
Well, now hold on, John's gospel was written at least 60 years before Marcus Aurelius, so what do you mean, Bob? Have you actually learned anything about New Testament history? Why isn't Joseph Ratzinger on your reading list? He's got this great new book called "Jesus of Nazareth". No don't tell me...

Again, he agrees with Paul Monk, author of The Bible and the Risen Ape who says
The Bible is fundamentally untrue in the most fundamental sense that we are not a fallen species of being at all, we never were. We never needed redemption, whether by a Jewish Messiah, by Christ crucified and raised on the third day, or by adherence to the Surahs of Muhummad.
Yet moments later he is saying that
While I've got to reject the notion of Original Sin, I don't hold any view that we are a species of enlightenment, that man is the measure of all things, I can hardly call myself a humanist, with the awareness of the horrors that humanity has brought about and seems to have been hardwired to bring about.
"Hardwired", Bob? That sounds awfully like our doctrine of Original Sin, you know...

Carr is right about one thing. If you find reading a particular book a bit of tough going, get the audio book. He did it for the bible. I did it for Crime and Punishment. I'm doing it now for Newman's Development of Doctrine (see here for downloads).

3 Comments:

At Friday, May 09, 2008 11:52:00 am , Blogger Peter said...

One small insight into why NSW is in such a mess!

 
At Friday, May 09, 2008 1:37:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

Jane Austen (whom Carr has not read according to the interview)

Well, there you go - no need to listen to someone who's never read the delightful Jane!

Dear Lord, these secularists appear not to have a brain in their heads!

While I've got to reject the notion of Original Sin, I don't hold any view that we are a species of enlightenment, that man is the measure of all things, I can hardly call myself a humanist, with the awareness of the horrors that humanity has brought about and seems to have been hardwired to bring about.

!!!

LOL!

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 8:52:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, following your esteemed Neuhaus in a previous post, why not toss in some Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading -- but not the only author worth reading. I would suggest starting with Beyond Good and Evil. Stick to German if your German is up to it, find the Walter Kaufmann translation if it isn't.

And if it must be Romans, go with the real ones -- how about Virgil, or even better, since the Romans kind of borrowed culture wholesale from the Greeks, Homer?

These are not unrelated: Nietzsche tried to bring back the classical idea of Man to replace the loser version of Man invented by Christianity.

Seriously, no Nietzschean dance here, I think there is a level of understanding of Christian faith that no Christian even suspects until he has seen from the inside out how utterly insipid and vacuous Christian belief looks from the standpoint of an entirely different, well, standpoint that has no place for God or religion of any kind, yours, mine, or anyone else's, and understands that for which it does have a place.

Hey, there's this North African guy who got made a Roman citizen for his plays, too. Terence.

My namesake. I don't know how dad got that one by. In those days, RC kids were generally named after one of the saints, even if not necessarily any longer the saint of the day of one's baptism. Mom wanted Steven Cornelius. My birth name was Douglas John. Had I stayed on track to become a Benedicitine, that would have resulted in another name yet -- or not, as taking a new name from the community on profession, once a sign of renouncing the world and living within the community, was now optional (along with everything else).

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home