August 25, 2002

Riveting NY Times article titled In God They Trust, Sort Of.

Our very own crosses, Garry Wills & James Carrol appear and are considered "apologists" for the faith, which, I suppose is like calling Genghis Kahn an apologist for peace and tranquility.

The quote below does have the whiff of recognition about it and I'll have to think on it. More grist for my suspicion that writers are natural wretches, although Flannery O'Connor is the exception that proves the rule:'s hard to give an account of your religious beliefs without sounding mawkish. William James understood this. Though he claimed to admire the pious, in ''The Varieties of Religious Experience'' he distanced himself from them with an occasional twinkle of irony. The irony can be detected in the list of moods he says are indicative of true spirituality: solemnity, serenity, cheerful gladness, tenderness. Religious discourse ''favors gravity, not pertness,'' he wrote. ''It says 'hush' to all vain chatter and smart wit.''

In other words, religious sentiment can be deadly to the literary impulse, which must be as willing to traffic in vain chatter and smart wit as in solemnity and uplift.

Jesus certainly had a smart wit, though he was a religious leader (not to mention God), and not a follower or a writer.

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