Imagine what would happen if listeners became learners. Imagine a congregation where the purpose of a sermon might be to have parishioners engage in a conversation in response to an informed engagement with the biblical text.
Let us briefly recount the career of one of the most interesting and spiritually minded of American writers. Nine books of fiction, including a searing arrow of a novella, The Shawl, which ranks with Primo Levi’s haunted memoirs when we talk about books on the Holocaust.
"In my time,” one of Saul Bellow’s characters muses, “parents didn’t hesitate to speak of death. What they seldom mentioned was sex. We’ve got it the other way around.” No American novelist has written more candidly and aggressively about both than Philip Roth.
It was a cold, damp day of the kind that the Irish call summer. I’d paid my respects at the modest grave of William Butler Yeats and then meandered over to admire a narrow, windowless tower built to guard against marauding Danes a thousand years ago.