RSS

Daily Archives: August 12, 2008

Christianity’s coats of many colours « Floating Life

I’m blogging myself because some recent Floating Life readers may wish to gain some clue about what I believe, for what it’s worth. That post is not a bad starting point, and happens also to relate to the previous post today, as you will see. It also has a somewhat mad, maddening, but interesting, comment thread — closed now as here I do close them after around two weeks. It also happens that the Biblical passage I refer to at the beginning of that post was last Sunday’s reading at South Sydney Uniting Church.

Years ago a then very famous UK educationist told us assembled English teachers that tentativeness is a sign of intelligence. I think that was news to me in 1975; I have always treasured it, if not always practised it. 😉

Advertisements
 
13 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2008 in blogging, faith and philosophy, personal

 

River of Heaven by Lee Martin – Random House 2008 — and Waleed Aly on Andrew Denton last night

leemartin River of Heaven by Lee Martin reminded me somewhat of the movie Stand By Me, (above) and no harm in that as it is one of my favourite movies.

On an April evening in 1955, Dewey died on the railroad tracks outside Mt. Gilead, Illinois, and the mystery of his death still confounds the people of this small town.

River of Heaven begins some fifty years later and centers on the story of Dewey’s boyhood friend Sam Brady, whose solitary adult life is much formed by what really went on in the days leading up to that evening at the tracks. It’s a story he’d do anything to keep from telling, but when his brother, Cal, returns to Mt. Gilead after decades of self-exile, it threatens to come to the surface.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Bright Forever, Lee Martin masterfully conveys, with a voice that is at once distinct and lyrical, one man’s struggle to come to terms with the outcome of his life. Powerful and captivating, River of Heaven is about the high cost of living a lie, the chains that bind us to our past, and the obligations we have to those we love.

That is from the publisher’s blurb, but I wouldn’t quarrel with it. The novel is beautifully written. Given that the writer is not, so far as I can see, himself a gay man, his empathy with the central character, a 65-years-old who is closeted by social setting and past events, is utterly commendable. This is a book that just may shift a few out of their homophobia, should they be part of that sad but, one hopes, dying social phenomenon. Well, perhaps not in some cases.

In last night’s brilliant interview on Enough Rope Waleed Aly had this to say on another matter — but it fits:

ANDREW DENTON: Can logic speak to prejudice?

WALEED ALY: … it depends on the brand of prejudice …

ANDREW DENTON: Well, that that brand for instance.

WALEED ALY: No. That’s you’re not going to dismantle that through logic. There’s what is there’s a famous saying, you can’t reason a person out of a position they didn’t arrive at through reason, and I think that’s a good example of that. that’s a certain there’s a there’s an emotional rage to that.

You really must read that interview, really!

Back to my current novel. See:

lhb

That is a music blog, but the post linked to the banner is about River of Heaven — and music; Lee Martin wrote the post.

The first time Largehearted Boy invited me to write liner notes for one of my books it was for my novel, The Bright Forever. At the time, no one knew that the book would end up being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction or that I would spend some wonderful afternoons and evenings chatting with book clubs. Inevitably, during those chats, someone mentions the fact that so many songs are referenced in that novel. This happens in all my work, most recently in my new novel, River of Heaven, a story told from the first-person point of view of Sam Brady, a sixty-five-year-old man, living with a secret in the small town of Mt. Gilead, Illinois. “You have to know the rest of my story,” he says at the end of Chapter 1, “the part I can’t yet bring myself to say. A story of a boy I knew a long time ago and a brother I loved and then lost.” With that, he sets into motion this tale of the death of a boyhood friend and what it brought to Sam’s life, particularly his estrangement from his brother, Cal. River of Heaven is Sam’s confession, and along the way, a number of songs underscore his involvement in a past wrong and his present-day journey toward redemption…

A Top Read of 2008.

And back to Waleed Aly for a moment. This so resonated with my own Teenage Calvinism back around the time George Monbiot (previous entry) was born:

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Comments Off on River of Heaven by Lee Martin – Random House 2008 — and Waleed Aly on Andrew Denton last night

Posted by on August 12, 2008 in America, Australia, Australia and Australian, Best read of 2008, book reviews, faith, Fiction, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, humanity, Islam, pluralism, reading, religion, Top read, TV, writers

 

Tags:

The spell of the Games masks the critical questions | theage.com.au | and a book review

Yes, I like so many at one level sat back and enjoyed the spectacle of the Beijing Opening Ceremony, as indeed one might. Even if there was a bit of high tech trickery with those 29 marching feet — we saw a preprepared digital version of the first 28 apparently — it was worth watching. However, in the cold light of Tuesday in Surry Hills articles like The spell of the Games masks the critical questions deserve to be read. Will such spectacular waste ever happen again?

THE Olympics have a strange power. While the Games are being played, much of the world appears spellbound, never more so than at the start of these Games. China’s Olympics are as much about announcing China’s place in the world as they are about fit young people running, swimming and jumping. Its opening ceremony was an astonishing display of no-expense-spared technical precision and choreography, paying homage to China’s history and proclaiming a bright future. It was watched by billions of television viewers, (almost 6 million in Australia) and cost tens of millions of dollars to produce.

Most of us are happy to sit back and enjoy it, basking in the success of Australian athletes and appreciating the performances of international stars. But, at the risk of being boring while Olympic fever is upon us: is this all a bit much? Was there not a sense during the spectacle that one of its drivers was an insistence this ceremony, and these Games, must be better, more expensive, more awe-inspiring than any before? Will London, which hosts the Games in 2012, now have to go one better or feel like a loser? Is this, really, what the Olympic movement is about?

The question of cost is being asked in China, although only by the brave. Bao Tong, a former senior Communist Party official who was jailed for seven years for his support of the Tiananmen Square student protesters and who has been under house arrest since his release, asked whether China could afford the Games. “There are at least 200 million people in China who still earn less than $US1 a day and you (the Government) are splurging all that money and mobilising everyone to hold a fancy Olympics,” he told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post

For “tens of millions” read “billions” — whether US or UK usage is followed…

Then too see The destruction of old Beijing: Going, gone from The Economist.

IN A few short years China’s Communists have used the excuse of the Olympic games to level the medieval city built by the great Ming emperor, Yongle. Beijing was long Asia’s ecumenical Rome, but its 2,500 or so religious sites are now reduced to a few dozen temples mainly for tourist consumption. The Communists have also destroyed Beijing’s social fabric, cutting through rich threads of community habit, shared memory and (what always infuriated them) subversive resistance to the madder impulses of higher authority. In different ways, these three books are superb guides to a Beijing that heart-wrenchingly is no more.

 The way it was (pic on right)

Jasper Becker highlights the breathtaking cynicism of this orgy of destruction; even the Cultural Relics Bureau formed a property-development company to pull down buildings in its charge. Yongle had used 200,000 convicts and press-ganged peasants for his project. Today a peasant-labour force of 1.3m has worked on 7,000-odd giant construction sites that have killed, in a hushed-up way, between 2,000 and 3,000 migrant workers a year. As for the city’s residents, Beijing’s average life expectancy is now well below the national average, thanks to smog and urban stress. So much for the promised clean, green “People’s Olympics”…

Which by a rather indirect route brings me to my first book review today: George Monbiot, Heat (Penguin pb edition 2007). As that reviewer says:

You can’t fault him for ambition…

The ultimate irony of Heat is that his prescription is probably the only one that can save this planet from the scourge of global warming, but that, as simple, direct and painless as it is, this prescription has about the same likelihood of actually coming about as a snowball’s chance in hell. Or, perhaps I should say, a snowball’s chance on Earth after Monbiot’s brave, well-researched, and ingenious ideas have been forgotten.

Young George really is a bright chap — and I say young George as he was three years old when I began my teaching career, which makes me feel what I am, a living fossil!

“I am not writing this book to confirm what you believe is true… As always, I seem destined to offend everyone.”

Another reviewer quotes that honest and provocative remark from Monbiot’s book and draws our attention to the website that accompanies the book. I am about to add that to the relevant box in the side bar here!

One of the great advantages of Heat is Chapter 2: “The Denial Industry”. It is devastating and thoroughly documented too. It should be read by everyone, really! What you then make of Monbiot’s proposals — and he is steadfastly “can do” I have to say — I will leave to you. It is rather beyond, to say the least, what is currently on the Rudd government’s agenda.

To get a taste of Chapter 2 look at Monbiot on the obviously rather dopey Melanie Phillips, as seen on the book’s website in Bluffers Corner. Melanie, Miranda — yes, the cap fits…

Go too to Monbiot.com:

Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it.
Tell them something new and they will hate you for it.

Better than a cold shower. And we had better get used to them too… If we’re lucky.