Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Seems like our lives are going in a lot of directions these days, leading to some interesting combinations.

Last Sunday, we spent the morning praising Jesus with these people, and Chris and I spent the evening heaping abuse on these people with these people.

Last night, I finally started reading my signed copy of Nick Hornby's latest, A Long Way Down. Chris and I went to the signing last summer, and even got to visit with Nick for a few moments when we came across him sucking on one last cancer stick before the event. I wrote an account of our "adventure", which included a stop at Oki Dog, here. (I'm "S.Bones" among the LA Riot Squad). My post prompted a good discussion on the nature of creativity and art. And Radiohead - always a touchy topic when Nick Hornby is mentioned. (And WARNING! - some of the guy's board avitars may be "not nice". I have them turned off when I read the boards).

The book is a comic novel about suicide, and begins with five people accidentally, or incidentally, or providentially, coming together on the same building (the aptly named "Topper's Hall") on New Year's Eve to kill themselves. Obviously, they don't kill themselves (which is not a spoiler, because Hornby is not a magic realist so if you kill off the characters in his books they just stay dead), and spend the balance of the book trying to figure out, together, how to resume and live their lives.

When I was done reading, I put the book down on the end table, only to discover this morning that it was stacked on top of Rick Warren's massively best-selling Christian "how to" book, The Purpose Driven Life, another rather odd combination. Many people have been helped by this book, and its success combined with his own earlier successes have made Warren very sought after and influential. We have even reached the point where even more amazing results are being attributed to the book. Last spring, we learned that when served with pancakes, readings from the book can make a killer and hostage taker repent and turn himself in, and just this month, we read that Warren thinks that "Purpose Driven" principles just may be the answer to poverty and genocide in Africa.

So, that got me thinking. What would happen if Hornby's five failed suicides began to live a "Purpose Driven Life"? Rick Warren may have the answers for American criminals and Rwandan genocidiers (sp?), but what can he do for four deeply (or shallowly as the case may be) unhappy English people, and one rather silly American. Stay tuned, and we'll find out together.


Anonymous said...

thanks for giving me some books to look up at the library

Johan Maurer said...

The new Christianity Today issue arrived at our house ... um ... today. I didn't see what book I put it on top of (probably my unsolicited issue of Cruise Travel) but if anyone of color visits me, I am going to put something on top of that magazine. The first impression that the cover gives is that what those teeming crowds of black people in Africa need is a pair of white people to save them. That's probably far from the complex reality of the Warrens' foray into Rwanda. Human beings are human beings, and should never hesitate to visit each other across any boundaries whatever, even risking looking foolish, in the service of compassion. But, oh, what a photo.

I had a similar reaction to an APU ad, "Now that's an education," in the December Campus Life. Part of me burns with a weariness of the Third World being depicted as a stage for white heroism; at the same time I do want these students to see the world as it is.

Thanks for your thoughtful blog. And hello again!

Bob Ramsey said...

Thanks for visiting, Joahn, and hello again to you, too.

I live in the far part of the near suburbs of LA, which means I get my magazines late - the New Yorker arrives anywhere between Thursday and the following Monday - so I haven't received the latest CT.

But I did see the latest cover on the website, and "OH, my goodness!". It's awful! Your critique is spot on. I view this as simply one more symptom of the tone deafness of the Evangelical community. Or at least I hope it's tone deafness. My fear is that many in our community like pushing those buttons, and see their insensitivity as a badge of honor.