jupe’s religious reading and multiple meanings of silence


Yikes. I am finding a bunch of religious books on my want to read list these days. I fault David MacCulloch for being such an excellent and fascinating writer. According to the silly Kindle reckoning I am 47% into his Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. As I have observed before this is probably inaccurate because Kindle counts the footnotes and index are part of the 100%.

I enjoy the way he parses history often via etymological consideration of words I know well. Cool beans.

Then I discovered that he has written a series of books that look interesting.

First his famous book. The Reformation: A History.

I am right now reading his description of the reformation in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. I am learning tons of stuff and think his approach and prose is one that I would like to learn more about.

I just read his Wikipedia article and was delighted to discover that although in the Anglican tradition he declined ordination due to the church’s stance on homosexuality. Being a gay man himself probably had something to do with this, but more likely his clear sighted understanding of history helped shape his self-descriptions as a “candid friend to Christianity”… this dude is definitely my kind of Christian scholar.

I was ordained Deacon. But, being a gay man, it was just impossible to proceed further, within the conditions of the Anglican set-up, because I was determined that I would make no bones about who I was; I was brought up to be truthful, and truth has always mattered to me. The Church couldn’t cope and so we parted company. It was a miserable experience

This came from a BBC press dealy for the series he made out his book.

I was also surprised and happy to read he has written a biography of Thomas Cranmer. Cranmer was the moving mind behind much of the original Anglican Book of Common Prayer. I discovered this bio before I knew what if any tradition MacCulloch was speaking from.

Finally, the book published this year also looks very intriguing.

I keep being drawn toward the idea of silence in my life. This is probably related to my own tendency when allowed toward garrulousness.

First there was John Cage.

Then Merton the trappist.

Then the idea that music is painted on and incorporates silence (sort of Mozart blended with Cage, eh?).

MacCulloch looks fascinating on it.

Serendipitously this morning in my reading of Michelle Alexander she has a little section on silence about family members who have prisoners or former prisoners in their family. Alexander even goes a bit farther to my way of thinking when she says

There is a repression of self experienced by these families in their silence. The retreat of a mother or wife from friendships in church and at work, the words not spoken between friends, the enduring silence of children who guard what for them is profound and powerful information—all are telling indicators of the social effects of incarceration. As relationships between family and friends become strained or false, not only are people’s understandings of one another diminished, but, because people are social, they themselves are diminished as well.

Michelle Alexander, The New American Jim Crow

So Alexander is pointing to the dark side of silence in interpersonal relationships which is a much different idea from Merton/MacCulloch which is different from Cage.

The power of one word to bridge these concepts blows my mind.

1.Library as Platform

As opposed to bricks an mortar.

2. Sometimes ‘Nazi’ Is the Right Word – NYTimes.com

Recommended reading following up on Israel’s weird contemplation of making certain words illegal.

3. Back to the Digital Drawing Board – NYTimes.com

Susan Crawford has some clear eyed information about the Net Neutrality stuff.


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