Friday, 4 February 2011
The operation of grace
I was very struck by a sentence in a fellow-blogger's post today, about Brideshead Revisited: ‘the religious theme drove me nuts with its ending of ultimate conservatism, propping up the past, the sterile old British way of life’. Evelyn Waugh explained in his introduction to Brideshead that it is about ‘the operation of grace’ – neither an easy concept nor a banal escapist theme for a novel. It is striking that men capable of such unflinching vision and insights into the human condition – to take just three – as Waugh, Graham Greene and T S Eliot were Christian converts (as for that matter were Boris Pasternak -’zhivago’ is church slavonic for ‘the living God’- and Alexander Solzhenitsyn). I was at a tribute concert by Patti Smith to the late W G Sebald in Aldeburgh on Saturday evening (Jan 29) where every single one of the items had a Christian theme. Sterile? Conservative? These thoughts are to the forefront because of the discussion evening yesterday at St Dunstan's in the West, on the life and work of Father Alexander Men. Someone asked me: why did they need to kill him? The answer given at the time by friends whose opinions I respect was always 'because he was free'. ps How about this for synchronicity: Thought for the Day on BBCR4 today was by Richard Harries who wrote the introductions to both Awake to Life, the cycle of 18 pre-and post-Easter sermons by Father Alexander Men, and the US and UK editions of Christianity for the Twentyfirst Century the collection of FAM's interviews, talks and essays with a short biographical note - contact me for one of the few copies remaining.