When Knopf advertised Updike’s novel as “a Bildungsroman describing the education, romantic and otherwise, of Owen Mackenzie,” critics knew that the ending would be the crux of the literary proposal. Not that the “getting there” would be irrelevant. But the literary and moral value of the story would depend on where the journey ended.
Religion may be killing us. The good news is that in our post-9/11 world there is a widespread concern about religion and violence. A December 2003 Minnesota poll, for example, showed that 77 percent of respondents attributed a fair amount of the cause of the world’s wars and conflicts to religion.
Over the past several years Stephen Webb, professor of religion and philosophy at Indiana’s Wabash College, has directed his highly tuned theological senses to a variety of subjects outside the typical confines of academic theology.
Rarely is theology important in proportion to its difficulty. Hart’s book is. It is nothing short of a full-blown engagement with leading 20th century theological lights in philosophy and their argument that all rhetoric is necessarily violent.
Maggie Smith’s 1969 Oscar-winning performance as the title character, a teacher at an all-girls school in Edinburgh in the 1930s who intones that “all my girls are Brodie girls, and they are the crème de la crème,” is one for the ages.