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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

July 15, 2011

OFF THE FREEWAY READING

Summertime reading, whether at the lake or on the back porch needs to be different.

And I am trying to address that difference these past weeks with a slow and rewarding reading of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

I tried this book a few years back and for some reason was not in the right “place.” I think I was trying to read this book at a jogger’s pace and it requires a “slow walk through the park” pace. In any case, it is going much better this time and I am taking such care this time that I have to tell myself to speed up a bit and yet I meander, delighting in its prose.

The book is about the Rev. John Ames who near the end of his life, writes a letter to his still-young son. We wander with Rev. Ames through his, and his father’s and his grandfather’s lives as ministers.

OK, you say… I’m a minister and the book’s main character is a minister, as is his father and grandfather and because I am a minister I only want to read about the lives of other ministers, both real and fictional and I only listen to church hymns and Christian music in my spare time, wear a suit and tie most days, read the Bible in every spare moment, support only family values, shun the theatre and breweries.

That’s pretty much me.

But I also drive a lot and have taken to listening to audio books. I have tried audio books like Joyce Carol Oates and Faulkner or Gilead. But, I cannot negotiate the 315 / I-71 / I-70 interchange and listen to carefully constructed prose and still outrun a semi, which is entering the Interstate on my right. Yet, I have found that swashbuckling novels and historical novels of knights and damsels and castles and plots of treachery and stolen gold are much easier to focus on when the freeway gets fierce. (Fighting Norsemen who were dying in battle would always make certain that they died with their hands gripping their swords so that they would go to the hall of the gods and drink and converse with other dead warriors. That’s useful info that you don’t get everyday.)

So, I fight my fictional battles while on the freeway. Let’s all analyze that. But during these days with gentle evenings to enjoy, I am occupied by another type of writing entirely.

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent invisible life.” (The Fictional Rev. Ames says in Gilead by Marylynne Robinson.)

You can’t listen to that at 65 mph on Highway 315.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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