Must’ve missed the first part

I just finished reading How to Be Good by Nick Hornby. The verdict is: I do recommend it if you have a weekend to kill on some light reading.

How to Be Good (as one would expect) tries to deliver an answer to that very question. And Hornby makes a number of insightfull observations about relationships, human nature and modern western socio-economic guilt (to name a few), and he does it in engaging prose with characters about whom (for the most part) I cared.

However, when it came down to it, the book didn’t deliver. The last sentence (actually, the last half of the last sentence) throws the reader spinning off into the void. Typical pop-modern ending. A nineties alternative song finishing on any chord but the resolution. Arty, don’t you know. This wouldn’t be such a let-down if the whole book wasn’t pointing in the other direction. Hornby was building toward a definite answer, and I was (for the most part) buying what he was selling. And at the last second, the product was switched for something that didn’t match the brochure. And it was a pretty decent brochure, so more’s the complaint.

In this I was reminded of The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (which I read in highschool and now feel as if I ought to read again). I remember loving that book as well up until the end, when the padre gives us the summary. And it doesn’t match. I thought Wilder must have missed the first three quarters of his own book.

Despite this major shortcoming, How to Be Good was, well, a good book. Not as good as High Fidelity and About a Boy (by the way, the movie version of the former is better than the book, the movie version of the latter is [insert-favored-british-vulgarity-here]), but good.


beatam me dicent omnes generationes

Magnificat anima mea Dominum
et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes
quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
et sanctum nomen eius
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies timentibus eum
fecit potentiam in brachio suo dispersit superbos mente cordis sui
deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles
esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes
suscepit Israhel puerum suum memorari misericordiae
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros Abraham
et semini eius in saecula

Merry Christmas!

In which I wonder: Purity or Paternity?

I’ve been working on this idea for a while. Thought I’d spit out the gist of it for feedback, sans proof and detailed arguement. It’s a Christmas Think. Feel free to throw things.

What I’m thinking is:

The emphasis on “the virgin birth” in Scripture seems to have nothing to do with some hellenistic idea of asexual “purity”, but rather is concerned with establishing the Messiah’s paternity.

The language used to describe Mary’s interaction with the Spirit of God (Luke 1:35) is sexual imagery (as used elsewhere in Scripture). After which, she’s pregnant. Jesus is the son of Jehovah, not Joseph.

Mary’s relations with the Holy Spirit of YHWH would not have been something less, but something greater than her subsequent relations with Joseph. “Greater” should not be defined by our Victorian, pseudo-pious ideas about sex.

The courtly love tradition either:

A. Screwed up our understanding of Mary and her sexual relationship with both Jehovah and Joseph.


B. Came about as a result of our screwy understanding of Mary and her sexual relationship with both Jehovah and Joseph.

check it out

I’ve been listening to Muse’s album Absolution. Melodramatic perfection. Every song is like the last song of the album. Layered rhythms, arpeggios galore, FX’d bass and apocalyptic vocals. And did I hear Rachmoninov in there? It’s like Radiohead up and grew a pair. And then learned to play their instruments. Check it out.