Skip to main content

The Spiral Staircase

I used to joke with my sister and some of my friends that I might open the world's first Baptist convent. That is easy to say when you are bemoaning your lack of dates as a sixteen year-old. Now, I do not know that I could handle the sort of structured, monotonous life that being a nun seems to entail.

I am still, however, somewhat envious of the contemplative life.

The Spiral Staircase chronicles the life of an ex-nun, Karen Armstrong, who joined the convent at 17 and left it in 1969, at the age of 24. This is where the story picks up (apparently a prequel gives insight to her years of vows). I was fascinated for most of the book. I love autobiographies - people have such interesting lives and thoughts. Even those who are not particularly "famous."

I find it especially thought provoking to read the struggles and questions of a woman who is highly committed to academia and acclimatized to faith. We are similar in many ways (epilepsy is not one of them), yet where spiritual questions take her is drastically different than where I hope to see myself ending up.

For at least a decade, she walked away from any faith in God. As she has returned to some form of spirituality/religion, she embraces what I would call a fairly post-modern faith. What I mean by this is that the 'facts' and 'doctrines' of a particular religion are irrelevant. What matters most is that a person's beliefs make them more generous. Truth, in the spiritual realm, is not about reason and historicity, but goodness and kindness.

In no way do I deny the vital importance of generosity and goodness. But I cannot agree that spiritual truth is not separate from what we might call 'factual' truth. This is a too sweeping embrace of postmodernism for my liking. It is, in fact, quite tied to what I contemplated exploring in my potential post-grad studies, which have yet to come to fruition...

Conclusion: It is the meeting place of 'factual truth' concerning spiritual matters and Goodness that I seek in my own life. Reading someone else's journey has confirmed that. I greatly enjoyed Karen's story, though. Just because I disagree on this doesn't mean I don't admire her in many ways. I would love to sit down with the author and have a cup of tea and talk about life & writing & faith.

Thus I come to The End of my vacation reading.*


*for the first time in I don't know how long, I didn't get a book for Christmas! Sadness.

Comments

Laura J said…
yet...
MLW said…
Sorry about no book at Christmas. For the first time in ??years I did not even think of getting them! I wonder why?

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.


But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex strug…

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …