Saturday, December 18, 2010

Heather King Has a Blog!

... which I have belatedly discovered. It's related to the book she's writing on Thérèse of Lisieux, which is itself an exciting prospect.

I told you about King earlier, and just now stumbled on her blog as I'm sitting here listening to the freezing rain's patter outside and the Paul Mauriat Christmas album's retro sparkle  inside, waiting for my banana nut bread to bake and trying to prepare for my spiritual autobiography class next semester. I'm teaching King's "Wonder Bread" early on, as an exemplar of the spiritual essay, along with David James Duncan's "A Mickey Mantle Koan." I'm going to ask the students to write their own short spiritual memoirs, and I figure Duncan and King will be way better models than remote or far-out characters like Augustine or Teresa of Avila or Robert Anton Wilson.

I just hope the students will read Augustine. Hell, I hope I finish reading him. When I was a teenager, Confessions was so marvelous, and now--I'm trying to have more empathy than tossing the book aside, muttering, "Yes, yes, you irritating little man." Still, the text has plenty of gifts that went right over my head when I was kid, and every time I'm about to run out of patience with my old Roman confrère, he says something that brings me down to earth. For example: we're both teachers of rhetoric, Auggie and I, and he said he moved from Carthage to Rome (and this was in the days before U-Haul) because he heard the students were better-behaved there, more eager to learn. Who could read that with a cold heart?

I also had this idea when I read him earlier that he was putting himself out there like some kind of spiritual hero, but as Heather King writes, "any spiritual seeker worth his or her salt has undertaken a journey so full of failure, hardship, and disappointment that no-one would want to follow it." Now I'm seeing a lot more pathos, a lot more cringe-worthiness in Confessions. But I still like Heather King better.

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