Monday, May 21, 2007

Abject blogospheric apologies...!

Poking around on Technorati, I discovered that way back last August Charles of New Haven tagged me for a book meme. Brother Charles I'm so sorry - I missed your post!

Anyway, being such an absent-minded procrastinator, I have to believe in better late than never; so, here's my reply (though as this is such ancient news, I'll forbear from tagging anyone else!)

1. One book that changed my life

Oh this has to be Per Olof Sjogren's The Jesus Prayer. Back in 1978 Fr Francis Horner SSM introduced me to this wonderful little book, and I've never been quite the same since!

2. One book that you've read more than once.

Other than the above? Well, loads. I'm an avid re-reader, but looking at my shelf I can see that one of the tattiest is Richard Foster's Money Sex & Power. Terrific book - the classical monastic disciplines of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience re-applied to contemporary out-of-cloister life. Should be required reading for the Third Order!

3. A desert island book.

This is hard, but I guess I'd have to go along with Charles on this, and (assuming, like in Desert Island Discs, I already have a Bible) I'd have to take my TSSF Manual, just in order to keep sane with the daily Office.

4. One book that made you laugh.

I'm kind of torn here between James Herriot and Phil Rickman. I think I'll have Midwinter of the Spirit, not because the plot's remotely funny (it's usually shelved under Horror...) but because I keep laughing either with glee at the utterly irresistible character of Revd. Merrily Watkins, Diocesan Exorcist, or with delighted recognition of my old stomping ground, the Herefordshire hinterland.

5. One book that made you cry.

Annie Dillard makes me cry more tears per chapter than anyone else I know. Which one? Oh, honestly. Only one? Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for sheer terror and celebration. Try this for size:

"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am ageing and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down..."

6. One book you wish you had written.

Rowan Williams, Silence and Honey Cakes. Just glorious! See a couple of posts back... What a man to have as an Archbishop. For all the brickbats flying around the poor man's head, I feel very safe in that particular pair of hands.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

Mercifully, it's long out of print, but Arnold Lunn and Garth Lean, The Cult of Softness. I don't know if I ought even to mention it, in case some religious-right hard man decides to reprint it, with a told-you-so foreword.

8. One book you are currently reading.

To make up for the fact that I'm not going to do the final question (tagging people) I'll have two here, I think! Leslie J Francis, Church Watch - Christianity in the Countryside (quite as scary as any Phil Rickman ;-) and Rowan Clare Williams' beautiful little study of the Franciscan life, A Condition of Complete Simplicity. I guess I could have put this one down under question 2, since this'll be the third or fourth time I've read it.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.

I toyed with the idea of listing one or more of the great spiritual classics I've been meaning to get around to one day before it's too late, but actually I'll be honest. I really want to read The Ambient Century: from Mahler to Moby - the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age by Mark Prendergast. Looks just up my street!

And that's that I think. Phew! Fascinating exercise. I only wish, Charles, that I'd done it when you tagged me... once again, sorry for the inattention!


  1. I have a question, Mike: is this the same Arnold Lunn who was family friends with Sandy Irvine (of Everest fame)? As Ramierez said 'There can be only one.'

    Also, thanks for the "Money Sex and Power' rec. That's right up my street.
    pax et bonum,

  2. Yes, Kelly - Sir Arnold Lunn, the mountaineer and Catholic apologist - it is he, I'm afraid... The other guy, Garth Lean, appears to have been heavily involved with Frank Buchman, of whom he wrote an adulatory biography. To be fair, he also wrote a well-regarded biography of William Wilberforce, so I'm sorry if I sound harsh.

    Hope you like Richard Foster. Interesting man - do you know his Celebration of Discipline?