2.06.2009

A late remembrance

In the never-ending focus on me, I have neglected to note John Updike's passing. Rabbit, Run was a very influential book on me in junior high. Updike's writing hasn't always done it for me, but when you move from writer to icon I suppose that's to be expected. Anyway, a friend sent me this, and it seems an entirely appropriate remembrance, especially from my sabbatical from church work comes soon to a close.
There was a time when I wondered why more people did
not go to church. Taken purely as a human recreation, what
could be more delightful, more unexpected than to enter a
venerable and lavishly scaled building kept warm and clean
for us one or two hours a week and to sit and stand in unison
and sing and recite creeds and petitions that are like paths
worn smooth in the raw terrain of our hearts? To listen, or not
listen, as a poorly paid but resplendently robed man strives to
console us with scraps of ancient epistles and halting accounts,
hopelessly compromised by words, of those intimations of
divine joy that are like pain in that, their instant gone, the
mind cannot remember or believe them; to witness the
windows donated by departed patrons and the altar flowers
arranged by withdrawn hands and the whole considered
spectacle lustrous beneath its patina of inheritance; to pay, for
all this, no more than we are moved to give—surely in all
democracy there is nothing like it. Indeed, it is the most
available democratic experience. We vote less than once a
year. Only in church and at the polls are we actually given our
supposed value, the soul-unit of one, with its noumenal
arithmetic of equality: one equals one equals one.
—John Updike, Pigeon Feathers and other stories

4 comments:

Cate said...

This was a wonderful piece.
Thanks for sharing it!

I will always remember John Updike because Mark proposed to me using one of his books - 'Marry Me'.
He glued the pages together, cut out a square, lined it with velvet, and placed my ring inside.
Isn't that a perfect Mark story?

Scott Rohr said...

Mark, really. How the hell are the rest of us supposed to cope in this world when you pull stunts like that?

Tom said...

Easy, Scott. Booze.

Thanks for posting that piece. I happen to agree with it wholeheartedly. I wouldn't call myself an overly or deeply religious person but I love being in churches. But is it odd that I prefer them empty and dimly lit?

Mark said...

But she refused to open the damn book. There was a bookmark at that page and everything.
What a great reflection. though.