I read this because the Martin Scorcese film adaptation opens in my neighborhood next week. I expected to be blown away, having read for years that thI read this because the Martin Scorcese film adaptation opens in my neighborhood next week. I expected to be blown away, having read for years that this was Endo's masterpiece and having seen it listed in a book of One Hundred Great Catholic Books.
Great, I don't know about. Blown away, well not exactly.
The whole thing seemed a bit passionless to me. The plight of the protagonist, a priest sneaking into repressive 17th-century Japan in peril of persecution, seemed foreordained. His search for another, older priest—supposedly an apostate—was the main driver of the plot, and once that mystery was solved, about 2/3 of the way through, I lost much of my interest. The conclusion, an appendix of "documents" that carry forward the main character's story in cold, bureaucratic order, felt like an anticlimax.
The most interesting character is a non-priest named Kichijiró, but to tell of his role and ultimate destiny would spoil too much. There are important questions here about the nature of faith and just what and how much God/Christ expects of us Christians, but while these piqued my intellect they did not grab my heart, sadly....more
This is one of the books that spurred my return to Christianity and my conversion to the Catholic Church. I read it for the first time in 1978 after tThis is one of the books that spurred my return to Christianity and my conversion to the Catholic Church. I read it for the first time in 1978 after the death of Pope John Paul I, who reportedly died with a copy on his chest.
I have just finished the audio version narrated by David Cochran Heath, and having done so, I've started listening to it all over again. It bears constant re-reading and listening. You will read of many saints who declared The Imitation their favorite book and some who memorized long passages. Therese of Lisieux supposedly knew it by heart. It is dense stuff: one strong piece of advice after another, page after page. Christianity Lite this isn't.
The origins of The Imitation are vague but interesting. It seems to have begun inside the Brethren of the Common Life, a late-medieval Christian community in the Low Countries that bears study.
I can't recommend this strongly enough—but only for active, practicing Christians who want to deepen their faith and devotion. The drum beat of religious teaching is far too loud to do anything but scare away the atheist or agnostic.
It served in my conversion only because I was a Christian since baptism at seven months, and my experience was more reawakening than conversion. ...more
Listened to this as a sort of review of the Barsetshire novels, which I recently finished, hoping the audio would extend my enjoyment. Quite the contrListened to this as a sort of review of the Barsetshire novels, which I recently finished, hoping the audio would extend my enjoyment. Quite the contrary.
The dramatization turns Trollope (drastically abridged) into soap opera, when he is anything but. For example, the fifth book, "Small House at Allington," Is reduced to a love triangle, when the book itself has far more complex geometry, with a triangle near its center.
I do NOT recommend this to anyone as an audio abridgment of Trollope if you haven't taken the time to read him. You'll get entirely the wrong idea. It might serve for a Trollope fan who hasn't visited Barchester in some years. My mistake was listening after only just leaving that sacred precinct. ...more
In search of a biography of the "Doctor of Devotion," I found this breathless hagiography written a century ago and sounding like it. (What biographerIn search of a biography of the "Doctor of Devotion," I found this breathless hagiography written a century ago and sounding like it. (What biographer writing today would refer to her subject as "seraphic"?) Still for the basic facts of Francis's life, you could do worse.
I was particularly interested in Francis's intimate relationship with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who founded the Order of the Visitation under his direction. In our hyper-sexualized culture it is hard to imagine such a friendship as chaste—any more than the friendship of another Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. But our times are the odd times, I think, in which everything reduces to sexuality, and I do mean reduces.
Four hundred years ago, in the midst of the Counter-Reformation, such male-female friendships surely existed. ...more
Reading this memoir is like crossing a desert—silent beauty beneath empty sky, and dry, always dry—but then also, while crossing, coming upon a seriesReading this memoir is like crossing a desert—silent beauty beneath empty sky, and dry, always dry—but then also, while crossing, coming upon a series of oases, none more beautiful than the one in the last five pages.
I upped my rating from four stars to five on the strength of this five-page finale, which begins, “Many people are surprised when they learn that I am a Christian.” I won’t spoil the finish any more than that.
After 220 pages about his difficult childhood, a thoughtful upbringing by good parents, loneliness as a teenager, falling in love with his male partner, and especially the author’s savantish exploits—which include memorizing pi to more than 22,000 digits and learning Icelandic in a week—the last pages are incredibly moving, or were so to me.
On Youtube you can find the British TV documentary “Brainman” about Tammet, and in fact you may find that more affecting than much of the prose in his book. The author describes walking through an airport with hyper-simplicity and lack of affect, which apparently is how his autistic consciousness experiences walking through an airport.
But when he writes about his intense love of numbers, words, and language, and then finally about his religious experiences, all of the dryness is flooded with beauty, and the book proves to have been worth every slogging step along the way....more
Subject of an HBO movie and author of many books, Grandin is arguably the most public person with autism today. I read this to get inside the mind ofSubject of an HBO movie and author of many books, Grandin is arguably the most public person with autism today. I read this to get inside the mind of an autistic person but instead of mind all I learned about was brain. A gifted engineer Grandin coldly lays out the latest research into the autistic brain. Which is interesting but not really inspiring. The insights for me here were between the lines. So I skimmed the last two chapters and moved quickly to a more personal treatment of autistic experience, born on a Blue Day....more
Anthony Trollope favored this novel over all his others, and I have followed suit, placing it on my list of Goodreads favorites.
If you have the timeAnthony Trollope favored this novel over all his others, and I have followed suit, placing it on my list of Goodreads favorites.
If you have the time or interest to begin a six-novel series about the Anglican clergy and provincial English society in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, you should begin the Chronicles of Barsetshire at once. The payoffs in this final volume are too many to count, as Trollope brings together all the major characters of the first five novels and resolves so many of their stories, loves, and trials.
Wow! I think that what strikes me most about Trollope is not simply the multitude of his characters (Dickens had as many) but the complexity of the motives that drive them—how Trollope is able to keep them all moving forward in parallel without ever losing sight of a single quirk or idiosyncrasy or (especially) self-contradiction.
Dickens, I think, was much simpler-minded. Each of his characters seems driven by a single chief feature, such that when we say Scrooge or Uriah Heep or even a main character like Nicholas Nickleby, we think immediately of an image, as though a person were a statue that held a single posture.
Trollope's characters are entirely different. Even the most villainous, like Mrs. Proudie, the bishop's controlling, conniving wife, are given light touches and glimmers of self-awareness.
And then in the end, though all of his characters are fallible and none more so than the clerics at which he pokes endless fun, Trollope holds up one example of near-perfect purity, the man who begins the first line of the first book and who makes his final appearances here, the Reverend Septimus Harding. I should like to die as he does here. ...more