Monday, March 31, 2008

Louis de Bernières on a Popular Attitude to God

In his novel, A Partisan’s Daughter, Louis de Bernières writes some wonderful theological reflections like this description of Chris’ relationship with the Divine:

“God and I have an agreement to leave each other alone. I don’t bother Him and He doesn’t bother me. If we meet in the street we raise our hats and smile and give each other a wide berth.”

Louis de Bernières, A Partisan’s Daughter (London: Harvill Secker, 2008), 119.

A review of this book is posted on Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “we raise our hats and smile …”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Robert Dessaix on Middle Age

In his book, Corfu (A Novel), Robert Dessaix writes:

“The guests all seemed to be in their middle years…that not uninteresting in-between age when you know at least what it is you want and also know you’ll never have it. It shows on the face.”

Source: Robert Dessaix, Corfu (A Novel), London: Scribner, 2003, 57-58.

Image: “It shows on the face.”

Church Where God is Absent

Susan Howatch in her novel, Scandalous Risks, describes a group of tourists visiting a cathedral in England. One of the tourists says after the visit:

“Here I stood, in one of the greatest cathedrals in England, and it was no more than a Disneyland theme-park. God was absent. There was no whiff of holiness, no whisper of religion and not even a clergyman in sight.”

Source: Susan Howatch, Scandalous Risks (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996), 12.

Image: “Here I stood, in one of the greatest cathedrals in England…”

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Do One Nice Thing

CSM reports:
“It began in the simplest way. Over lunch with girlfriends, Debbie Tenzer listened as they argued over the state of the world – war, crime, schools in Los Angeles – and how they felt helpless to change anything.”

“Ms. Tenzer found herself resisting that view – and began to think what she could do.
"OK, I can't fix needy schools, but I could give them my children's old schoolbooks," the mother of three recalls telling herself. "I can't end the war, but I can send a phone card so a soldier can call home and feel comforted. I decided then I'd find a way to do one nice thing for someone every week."

“Tenzer, a marketing professional, started with small gestures of kindness on Mondays, her own most difficult day. Friends soon suggested she post these activities on a website, and was born.”

“Californian Debbie Tenzer created in 2005 to chronicle her efforts to do a good deed for someone once a week. Since then, she’s communicated with people in 53 countries about their own inspirations for making small gestures to lend a helping hand.”

To read the whole story, follow this link:
Jane Lampman, ‘ inspires do-gooders to keep it up’, The Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 2008.

Check out Debbie's web site at

Image: Debbie Tenzer

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Alan Bennett on Books and Reading

Alan Bennett’s novella, The Uncommon Reader, has these and many more wonderful insights into the value of books and the joy of reading:

Briefing and Reading
Queen Elizabeth, who is developing a voracious appetite for books, points out an important distinction to her equerry, Sir Kevin, when he is about to give her a ‘briefing’:
“‘Of Course,’ said the Queen, ‘but briefing is not reading. Briefing is terse, factual, and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up.’” (21-22)

Other Worlds
Her Majesty to Sir Kevin:
“‘Books are not about passing the time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds.’” (29)

The Appeal of Reading
The Queen is reflecting on her new passion for reading:
“The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference; there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers are equal, herself included…” (30)

“Books did not defer. All readers were equal, and this took her back to the beginning of her life. As a girl, one of her greatest thrills had been on VE night when she and her sister had slipped out of the gates and mingled unrecognized with the crowds. There was something of that, she felt, to reading. It was anonymous; it was shared; it was common. And she who had led a life apart now found that she craved it. Here in these pages and between these covers she could go unrecognized.” (31)

Reading Appears Selfish
Sir Kevin is not positive about the Queen spending so much time reading and he expresses this objection:
“‘To read is to withdraw. To make oneself unavailable. One would feel easier about it,’ said Sir Kevin, ‘if the pursuit itself were less…selfish.’” (44)

Reading for Pleasure
Sir Kevin wonders if Her Majesty might connect her passion for reading with a big cause like lifting literacy rates in England and the world:
“‘One reads for pleasure,’ said the Queen, ‘It is not a public duty.’” (44)

Source: Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).

A review of The Uncommon Reader is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “when she and her sister had slipped out of the gates and mingled unrecognized with the crowds.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Inspiration: ‘Where Does it Come From?’

In Alan Bennett’s novella, The Uncommon Reader, he has a gem about the source of inspiration.

The Queen is entertaining a group of writers at a soirée and while they are loud, gossipy and funny with other writers, one on one with the Queen they are tongue-tied and on edge.

“One Scottish author was particularly alarming. Asked where his inspiration came from, he said fiercely: ‘It doesn’t come, Your Majesty. You have to go out and fetch it.’”

Source: Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 51-52.

A review of this novella is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “You have to go out and fetch it.” Getting out under the Humber Bay Arch Bridge. Photo, ‘Bridge and Icicles’ courtesy of 'A Daily Dose of Imagery' that provides one inspirational photo every day at this web site.

Alan Bennett on New Zealand

In Alan Bennett’s latest novella, The Uncommon Reader, Queen Elizabeth is speaking to her equerry, Sir Kevin, about his homeland:

“New Zealand, that land of sheep and Sunday afternoons….If one wanted to pass the time one would go to New Zealand.”

Source: Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 28, 29.

A review of this novella is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Image: “that land of sheep…”

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dog Prays to God: “Good God! Good Dog!”

Dog and God
Can a dog pray to God? Does God answer a dog?

One dog owner has found it more than coincidence that ‘dog’ is ‘God’ backwards and is arguing for great theological significance and dogged divinity status.

Another author has been sniffing this same connection and is now turning their book into a movie called God the Dyslexic Dog.

Canine Testimony
Associated Press has just posted this news of a dog that prays to God:

“At a Zen Buddhist temple in southern Japan, even the dog prays. Mimicking his master, priest Joei Yoshikuni, a 1 1/2-year-old black-and-white Chihuahua named Conan joins in the daily prayers at Naha's Shuri Kannondo temple, sitting up on his hind legs and putting his front paws together before the altar.

It took him only a few days to learn the motions, and now he is the talk of the town.

‘Word has spread, and we are getting a lot more tourists,’ Yoshikuni said Monday.

Yoshikuni said Conan generally goes through his prayer routine at the temple in the capital of Japan's southern Okinawa prefecture (state) without prompting before his morning and evening meals.

‘I think he saw me doing it all the time and got the idea to do it, too,’ Yoshikuni said.
The priest is now trying to teach him how to meditate.
Well, sort of.
‘Basically, I am just trying to get him to sit still while I meditate,’ he explained. ‘It's not like we can make him cross his legs.’”

Dog Prayers
Perhaps Catholic dogs might be better at crossing their legs but if this goes beyond postures and paws whatever might a dog be saying to God? Someone has created this sample of canine queries and intercessions:

Dear God:
Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another? How can they get to know one another?

Dear God:
When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?

Dear God:
Why do you have cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around in a car? We dogs do love a nice car ride! Would it be so hard to rename the “Chrysler Eagle” the “Chrysler Beagle”?

Dear God:
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

Dear God:
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God:
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God:
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God:
Let me give you a list of just some of the things I am praying about to be a good dog:
1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it, or after they throw it up.
2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way these dead things smell.
3. I will not munch on "leftovers" in the kitty litter box, although they are tasty.
4. The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
5. The sofa is not a face towel. Neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
6. The garbage collector is not actually stealing our stuff.
7. My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
8. When the officer reaches in for Mom's driver's license and registration, I will not bite his hand
9. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
10. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying "hello".
11. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table.
12. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house --- not after.
13. I will not throw up in the car.
14. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt across the carpet.
15. When we have company, I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch
16. The cat is not a “squeaky toy”, so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

And, finally, my last question:

Dear God: Why do humans only have 10 Commandments but dogs have 16?

P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back? Please?

Image: One-and-a-half-year old Chihuahua dog 'Conan' prays with his owner and chief priest Joei Yoshikuni during a morning pray at the Shuri-Kannondo temple in Okinawa islands, southwestern Japan, Monday, March 24, 2008. (AP Photo courtesy of Itsuo Inouye)

Louis de Bernières on New Zealand

In his most recent novel, A Partisan’s Daughter, Louis de Bernières offers this cameo on the ‘shaky isles’:

“New Zealand is a lovely place. It’s just like England was when I was young, full of quiet, decent, humorous people who eat bread and butter and whose clothes don’t quite fit.”

Louis de Bernières, A Partisan’s Daughter (London: Harvill Secker, 2008), 210.

A review of this book is posted on Reviewing Books and Movies.

Image: “humorous people who eat bread and butter…”

Robert Dessaix on Adelaide—‘Where nothing ever happens…’

Robert Dessaix in his novel Corfu has these reflections on Australia’s ‘city of churches’:

“And I don’t come from Adelaide, except technically…”

“It’s a completely unremarkable city, a city where, apart from the odd axe-murder, nothing ever happens, or nothing that matters. It’s just a flat strip of land between the gulf and the hills where retired clergymen and hairdressers, presided over by the Anglican gentry, eke out their days mulching their gardens and putting on Brigadoon in church halls…”

“He talked to William about going home to Adelaide and William says:
‘But why Adelaide? You always said how boring it was, how you’d rather live in New Zealand than Adelaide.’”

Robert Dessaix, Corfu (A Novel) London: Scribner, 2001, 88, 225.

Image: Adelaide.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Keeping up Appearances

Gamrah is one of the four main characters in The Girls of Riyadh who unfortunately is discarded by her new husband and left to raise their new baby son in her country of Saudi Arabia. While going through depression her mother seeks to give her help:

“By summer, Gamrah’s mother decided to do something to cheer up this daughter of hers who had grown old before her time. They traveled together—with the rest of the family—for a month to Lebanon, leaving the nursing child with his eldest aunt, Aunt Naflah.”

“In Lebanon, Gamrah submitted to the makeover procedure called ‘tinsmithing’. It began with a nose job. It ended up with sessions of facial chemical peeling. The regime also consisted of a strict diet and exercise programme under the supervision of an extremely elegant specialist, and Gamrah topped it all off with a new hairstyle and colouring at the hands of the most famous and skilled hairdresser in all of Lebanon.”

“Gamrah returned to Riyadh prettier than when she had left. To spare herself the disapproval of her conservative relatives, she told everyone who saw her before she managed to strip off the dressing on her nose that her nose had been broken in an accident while she was in Lebanon, which had resulted in reconstructive surgery. Not cosmetic surgery—since cosmetic surgery is against the laws of Islam.”

Rajaa Alsanea, The Girls of Riyadh (London: Fig Tree, Penguin, 2007), 161.

A review of The Girls of Riyadh is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound.

Image: “sessions of facial chemical peeling…”

Making Love Saudi Style

Rajaa Alsanea in her novel, Girls of Riyadh, writes of the way Saudi lovers overcome the restrictions on meeting alone. Of Sadeem and Firas she says:

“For them, as for so many other lovers in the country, the telephone was the only outlet, practically, for them to express the love that brought them together. The telephone lines in Saudi Arabia are surely thicker and more abundant than elsewhere, since they must bear the heavy weight of all the whispered croonings lovers have to exchange and all their sighs and moans and kisses that they cannot, in the real world, enact—or that they do not want to enact due to the restrictions of custom and religion, that some of us truly respect and value.”

Source: Rajaa Alsanea, The Girls of Riyadh (London: Fig Tree, Penguin, 2007), 157.

A review of The Girls of Riyadh is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound.

Image: “The telephone lines in Saudi Arabia are surely thicker and more abundant than elsewhere.”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pilot Inadvertently Shoots Down His Hero

A German fighter ace has just learned that one of his 28 wartime 'kills' was his favourite author.

Messerschmidt pilot Horst Rippert, 88, said he would have held his fire if he had known the man flying the Lightning fighter was renowned French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

The fliers clashed in the skies over southern France in July 1944.

"He was below me," said Rippert. "I saw his markings, manoeuvred myself behind him and shot him down.

"If I had known it was Saint-Exupery, I would never have shot him down. I loved his books. "I knew he was a French pilot, but he was probably my favourite author at the time."

Saint-Exupery published eight books before his death, including The Little Prince, which has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Rippert gunned down 28 Allied planes during the war and found out about Saint-Exupery only from a historian who is writing the author's biography.

"I am shocked and sorry," the ex-Luftwaffe pilot said yesterday. "Who knows what other great books he would have gone on to write?"

Source: ‘How a German Wartime Flying Ace Discovered He Shot Down His Hero’, The Mail, 17 March 2008.

Images: Horst Rippert; Antoine de Saint-Exupery standing in front of his plane.

Further: A story about the anniversary of The Little Prince is posted on this site at C’est magnifique.

Benazir Bhutto on Why I Do What I Have to Do

Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter of the East: An Autobiography concludes early in the year 2007 when she decides to return to Pakistan from exile and face an uncertain future. This statement is all the more poignant in the light of her death in December 2007:

“So I prepare to return to an uncertain future in Pakistan in 2007….I realize I can be arrested. I realize that like the assassination of Benigno Aquino in Manila in August 1983, I can be gunned down on the airport tarmac when I land. After all, al-Qaeda has tried to kill me several times, why would we think they wouldn’t try again as I return from exile to fight for the democratic elections they so detest. But I do what I have to do, and am determined to return to fulfill my pledge to the people of Pakistan to stand by them in their democratic aspirations.

I take the risk for all the children of Pakistan.

It is not about personal power. It is about simple decency and respect for the right of men and women to live in security and dignity and in liberty….

I know it sounds idealistic, and to some unrealistic, but after all these years, I still maintain my faith that time, justice and the forces of history are on the side of democracy.

Some people might not understand what drives me forward into this uncharted and potentially dangerous crossroads of my life. Too many people have sacrificed too much, too many have died, and too many people see me as their remaining hope for liberty, for me to stop fighting now. I recall the words of Dr Martin Luther King: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent on things that matter.’ With my faith in God, I put my fate in the hands of my people.”

Source: Benazir Bhutto, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography (London: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 430-431.

This book is reviewed at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Benazir Bhutto at her last political rally.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Health Warning: 'Crucifixion is Bad for You'

Philippine health officials on Wednesday (18 March 2008) warned people taking part in Easter crucifixion and self-flagellation rituals that it can be bad for their health.

If they do engage in this practice (aimed at assuaging their sins) “they need to get a tetanus shot first and sterilize the nails to avoid infections.”

The Philippine Health Department encouraged participants to check the condition of the whip before flagellating themselves and advised that six inch nails used in crucifixion should be sterilized first.

Source and full report: ‘Philippines Warns ‘Crucifixion Bad for Health’, Yahoo!7 News, 19 March 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: An Easter ritual in the Philippines which is a great draw card for tourists.

Henry Ford’s Great ‘air-con’ Deal

The three Goldberg brothers, Norman, Hyman, and Max invented and developed the first automobile air-conditioner.

On July 17th, 1946, the temperature in Detroit was 97ºF.

The three brothers walked into Henry Ford's office and sweet-talked his secretary into telling him that three gentlemen were there with the most exciting innovation in the auto industry since the electric starter.

Henry was curious and invited them into his office. They refused and instead asked that he come out to the parking area to their car. They persuaded him to get into the car and pointed out that the thermometer was registering 130ºF. They turned on the air-conditioner and the car cooled down immediately.

The old man got very excited and invited them back to the office, where he offered them three million dollars for the patent.

The brothers refused saying they would settle for 2.5 million but they wanted recognition by having a label "The Goldberg Air-Conditioner" on the dashboard of each car that it was installed in.

Now, old man Ford was notoriously more than just a little bit anti-Semitic, and there was no way he was going to have the name "Goldberg" displayed prominently on every Ford car.

They haggled back and forth for about two hours and finally agreed on three million dollars and that just their first names would be shown.

And so, even today, all Ford cars have air-conditioners which show on the controls, the names “Norm”, “Hi” and “Max.”

Source: This is one of those legends in the genre, ‘Why let truth get in the way of a good story?’ For a commentary and variations on the same story see Urban Legends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Benazir Bhutto on Bitterness

Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter of the East: An Autobiography is a deeply sad book that is mostly written from behind prison bars and is a catalogue of death threats, detentions, violence and injustice. It describes the relentless momentum towards her father’s death, the death of Benazir’s brothers and the loss of countless supporters. It is all the more painful when one reads the book following the assassination of the author.

Bhutto writes about times of intense anger but soon after the unexpected death of General Zia she reveals this truth:

“You can’t be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up but it cannot drive you. The task—and my motivation, remained the same: to return Pakistan to a democracy through fair and impartial elections.”

Source: Benazir Bhutto, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography (London: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 380.

This book is reviewed at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Benazir Bhutto.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Robert Dessaix on Easter

In his novel about a trip to the Greek island, ‘Corfu’, Robert Dessaix writes about a meal at Easter:

“So untethered to anything was the table conversation that afternoon that I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised if we’d all floated up off our chairs into the sky and vanished.”

“The consul’s wife embarked on a long story about Abu Dhabi, where they’d spent eight years, but it petered out on a spattering of interjections about other things—the correct pronunciation of Arabic words (her husband was a stickler for the glottal stop), Arab terrorists, bats, scientology, AIDS, Andy Warhol (who’d just died)…this and that.”

“Someone eventually asked me where I came from, and I said Australia. The Dutch said they’d once lived in Indonesia. A Greek man said he had a cousin in Adelaide.”

“The Resurrection, needless to say, never came up. Should it have, I wonder? Was anyone there having a new life in Christ? If someone was—and that’s what the red-painted eggs on the Easter loaves were hinting we should be having, it says so in my Treasury of Authentic Greek Cooking—wasn’t it at least worth mentioning? Should I have asked the consul’s wife as I passed her the sauce if she believed in the bodily resurrection of the Nazarene?”

Robert Dessaix, Corfu (A Novel) (London: Scribner, 2001), 64-65.

Image: “that’s what the red-painted eggs…were hinting we should be having…”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wilfred Thesiger on the Desert

Wilfred Thesiger, explorer and writer about the desert penned these words in his book, Arabian Sands:

“In the deserts of southern Arabia there is no rhythm of the seasons, no rise and fall of the sap, but empty wastes where only the changing temperature marks the passage of the years.”

“It is a bitter, desiccated land which knows nothing of gentleness or ease. Yet people have lived there since earliest times…. People live there because it is the world into which they were born, the life they lead is the life their forefathers led before them; they accept hardships and privations; they know no other way…”

“No one can live this life and emerge unchanged…For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.”

Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands (First published London: Longmans, Green and Co Ltd., 1959; Dubai: Motivate Publishing, 1994, 2006), 17.

Thesiger’s book has been turned into a film by Emirati director and producer Majid Abdulrazak and the film is reviewed in Gulf News by Manjusha Radhakrishnan in an article entitled Thesiger’s Tale, 13 March 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Thesiger’s party in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia. This photo is from the web gallery of photographs taken by Wilfred Thesiger and can be found at: Thesiger Galleries

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Mind is Clearest at Dawn

In Peter Ackroyd’s novel, The Fall of Troy, Alexander Thornton, one of the many visitors to the archaeological dig says:

"I like to begin my work at the earliest possible time. My mind is clearest at dawn. When the world awakes, so do I.”

Source: Peter Ackroyd, The Fall of Troy (London: Vintage Books, 2007), 128.

A review of the book, The Fall of Troy, can be found at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “When the world awakes, so do I.”

There is Salvation in Work

Peter Ackroyd’s novel, The Fall of Troy, concerns the marriage of German archaeologist, Heinrich Obermann, to Greek bride, Sophia Chrysanthis, whose knowledge of the works of Homer is an attractive asset in the quest to excavate the city of Hissarlik, which he thinks is Ancient Troy.

Commenting on her new life to a visitor to the archeological dig Sophia says:

‘There is salvation in work. In activity. As soon as I began to dig, I found a purpose. It is what my husband calls my destiny.”

Source: Peter Ackroyd, The Fall of Troy (London: Vintage Books, 2007), 92.

A review of the book, The Fall of Troy, can be found at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “As soon as I began to dig, I found a purpose.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

E. L. Doctorow on Great Songs

Of great songs, standards, composers will tell you the basic principle of their composition: Keep it simple, the simpler, the better. You want untrained voices to handle it in the shower, in the kitchen. Try to keep the tune in one octave. Stick with the four basic chords and avoid tricky rhythms.

These composers may not know that this is the aesthetic of the church hymn. They may not know that hymns were the first hits. But they know that hymns and their realms of discourse ennoble or idealize life, express its pieties, and are in themselves totally proper and appropriate for all ears. And so most popular ballads are, in their characteristic romanticism, secularized hymns.

The principle of keeping it simple suggests only so many standards sound alike. One might even say a song cannot become a standard unless it is reminiscent of existing standards. Maybe this is why we feel a great song has the characteristic of seeming, on first hearing, always to have existed. In a sense it has. Just as we in our minds seem to have always existed regardless of the date of our birth, a standard suggests itself as having been around all along, God given, and waiting only for the proper historical movement in which to make itself available for our singing.

E L Doctorow, City of God (London: Abacus, 2001), 223-224.

Image: “Keep it simple, the simpler, the better.”

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Elie Wiesel on Indifference

Elie Wiesel, the renowned novelist, philosopher, and Holocaust survivor presented the Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture, "Building a Moral Society" to an audience at DePauw University.

In his concluding remarks he encouraged his audience to be open to the voices of others and to the world. He then spoke about the perils of indifference:

Be Concerned
“I do believe that students today should open themselves to other people’s voices and whatever is happening in the world. Be concerned.”

"We have a character in Scripture known as Job. He is a man who suffers and he is part of Scripture, except in our tradition [the Jewish tradition], we don’t see Job as a Jew but we study him to teach us. He is not Jewish but his suffering concerns me.”

Be Questioning
“I don’t know what to do about suffering but the question must be raised. As long as you are asking the question it will lead you to know for you are ready to know and to receive. If you have no questions you turn your back on yourselves and others and then you are indifferent.”

Be Not Indifferent
“There is nothing worse in life than indifference. Indifference to evil is evil and at times worse than evil…”

“The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.
The opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness but indifference.
The opposite of life is not death but indifference because he or she who is indifferent is actually dead without knowing it.”

“In a moral society the first lesson is also the last—you must fight indifference. Whenever you fight and whatever you fight, ultimately you have fought indifference.”

Source: Elie Wiesel, "Building a Moral Society", ‘Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture’ DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, 21 September 1989. Web link:
DePaux University, News.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ivan Illich on Talking and Communicating

Ivan Illich’s sometime collaborator and friend Barry Sanders, co-author of ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind, has described a revealing incident where Illich hammered home to an audience his wariness of technology and his concerns about the death of books and reading.

“At one point during a talk in Maine, in the midst of Ivan describing his mistrust of electronic technology and in particular his terror of e-mail, a young man leapt to his feet and shouted out, ‘But, Mr. Illich, don’t you want to communicate with us?’ Ivan immediately shouted back, ‘No. I have absolutely no desire to communicate with you. You may not interact with me, nor do I wish to be downloaded by you. I should like very much to talk to you, to stare at the tip of your nose, to embrace you. But to communicate – for that I have no desire.’

Source: Richard Wall, ‘A Turbulent Priest in the Global Village’, LewRockwell.Com., 2 January 2005.

Image: Ivan Illich, 1926-2002