I hope pastors read this book. But more than that, I hope it finds its way into the hands of examining chaplains and board elders, of district superintendents and seminary principals. They can do much to shape a culture where pastor-readers become more common.
The idea presiding in Houellebecq is that the worship of individual autonomy destroys love. If love is the meaning of life, then a society bent on autonomy for its members will tend to rob life of meaning. “Once you’ve said it, it sounds obvious,” Houellebecq said in another context, “but I wanted to say it.”
This Realness, a touch of authentic mythology--much like Niggle who finally saw the Real Tree he had modeled his painting after throughout his life without knowing it--comes alive when the legends are approached the way they were intended to be: as if they were true. Here Myth becomes palpable. It walks on the borders of history. Reaching out, we can feel its potency, its beauty, and, as we look through the many traditions, come to know it more.
Mark Mitchell's book is the latest title published under the FPR Books imprint. If this excerpt whets your appetite, do order a copy of...
A number of Werntz’s suggested practices—e.g., regular use of corporate and pre-written prayers, and identifying with a classic confession of faith rather than a mission statement—are already common in many, more traditional Protestant churches and in Roman Catholic churches. Indeed, one gets the impression that Werntz’s argument is aimed primarily at nondenominational evangelicals and Baptists.
All of the biases, all of the bloodlessness, and all the banalities of Tractor Wars, I suggest, are the products of a whole way of thinking about technology, agriculture and the economy, one that values invention over implementation or use, innovation over maintenance or care, and the “modern” over the technologies that are proven to work better for the plants, animals and people of the broader communities of agriculture in the present as well as the past.
We might not use the word “genius” in all these contexts, but the mystery is the same. Where did this exceptional ability come from? Is it just another trait like brown eyes or curly hair? We know only that this aptitude defies our disciplines and formulas and couldn’t have been foreseen. Bestowed upon otherwise ordinary people, genius singles them out in one salient regard. It’s a gift that the wise don’t take for granted, a revelation that might beckon each time we visit a gallery, see a movie, attend a concert, open a book.
Stowe’s book is both timeless and timely. Our physical embodiment as human creatures is always essential, but it is especially so amid increasing digitality. The last two years of pandemic-related economic fluctuations and supply-chain instabilities have further driven home the importance of developing manual competence on a local and familial level, which adds to the book’s importance.
There is a significant difference between staring at a computer screen and seeing the world through a porch screen. Hailey emphasizes the benefits of seeing from the “threshold between stability and precariousness,” which is nothing like viewing the world from the comfort of a couch in an air-conditioned room, even if the porch is also comfortable.