Longing for God

St Mark's basilica Venice

St Mark’s basilica Venice

It puzzles me that so few of our modern fictional heroes have any religious faith. My good read over Christmas is likely to be P D James,  (creator of Adam Dalgleish,) or Ruth Rendell (Chief Inspector Wexford) or more likely Donna Leon with her Commissario Brunetti set in Venice. (I picked up two I hadn’t read in a charity shop last week).  All of them have an, at times, very intense nostalgia for a past world which has slipped away from them, a world which was kinder, more courteous and more ordered. Yet their attitude to religion is the unquestioning modern stereotype: that it is something we can longer believe in, that it was and is irrelevant at best and corrupt at worst.

Here is Brunetti’s wife Paola, talking of her relationship with her students at the university where she teaches English literature. Like her husband she has long since rejected the Catholic faith in which she was brought up.

‘Why is it so bad all of a sudden?’ Brunetti asked.

‘It’s not really all of a sudden. It’s more that I’ve become aware of how bad it’s become.’

‘Give me an example,’ he said.

‘Ten years ago, I could force them (her students) into accepting the fact, or at least giving lip service to the idea, that the culture that formed me, and those books and ideas that our generation grew up on – Plato, Virgil, Dante – that it was superior in some way to whatever fills their lives. Or, if not superior, then at least interesting enough to be worthy of study…. but that doesn’t happen any more. They think, or ay least they seem to think, that their culture with its noise and acquisitiveness and immediate forgettability is superior to all of our stupid ideas.

‘Like?’

‘Like our no doubt ridiculous idea that beauty conforms to some standard or ideal; like our risible belief that we have the option to behave honourably and should take it; and like our idiotic idea that the final purpose of human existence is something more than the acquisition of wealth.’

Donna Leon –  Wilful Behaviour – p.68  (Arrow Books 2003)

 

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About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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