Monday, August 29, 2005

Peering into the well for the light at the end of the tunnel and seeing nothing but tunnel.

I created this blog for my opinions a couple of days ago. Immediately after its creation, all opinions left my mind, so I put in a placeholder and waited. And waited. And waited some more, but went days without any opinions. I had a few thoughts, but they came and went at times when I wasn't near the keyboard, then I opened up my e-mail one day and what did I find? A note from a friend in response to a response I had left to one of her blogs of long ago. I mean, I left the response just yesterday--her blog was from a couple of years ago. And suddenly, as I responded to her response, I felt an opinion coming on. Thanks to Cont/C and Cont/V, I didn't have to work too hard. So, here it is.

Just to fill you in, Pilgrim's Progress was (you can still find it in bookstores and libraries, but it's not read as much as it was three or four centuries ago) an allegorical story in which an Everyman type saves his soul by pursuing spiritual enlightenment. It's the story of his quest and was immensely inspiring. It might be good reading today for a certain kind of person, but that person will probably be reading those loathsome, execrably written books by nouveau-riche opportunistic billionaire Tim LaHaye, or they'll be immersed in any of a number books in the devotional section of the bookstore. Pilgrim's Progress is much better than any of those, but still not compelling enough for someone not really interested to read.

Anyway, here's my note, which I think qualifies as a blogism.

Hi Molly (that's her name)

I liked your forthright nose-thumbing of Pilgrim's Progress. In English major school, it's one of those books, really, that you read about but never read. Lots of historians and commentators refer to it briefly--especially if they're writing histories of English literature, but it's rarely assigned for a class, except maybe some 17th century lit (I think I remember that it's a 17th century book) if the professor's really really old and comes into class just after taking communion. I finally read it because it had been referred to a lot, and it seemed like if I wanted to pass my qualifying exams, I'd sure better know it. I never got a single question on it--boy, was I bummed! I don't know that any of my professors had ever read it. It was a simple, instructional book with a fetching theme. Paradise Lost--now that's literature! Milton was my specialty long ago when I was just a little boy in the halls of academe. What did I write on? His prose. What's that? I forget. [Molly thought Paradise Lost was a much richer work of literature. She must be right--English majors are generally required to take a Milton course, never a Bunyan course.]

It's true, more people probably read Pilgrim's Progress than the Bible all the way through. I would also guess that anyone who reads the Bible all the way through now does so for seriously wrong reasons. Until the Protestant reformation, hardly anyone read any of the Bible, even if they were literate--the Church discouraged it, prefering that believers get their interpretations from priests, bishops, popes, cardinals, et al. If anyone asked me today, should they read the Bible all the way through, I'd say sure, but not all in one sitting. Save that for Harry Potter. If you ever want to read the Bible all the way through, too, I'd say--use 60% of that energy to read good historical/interpretive commentary. Without that context, the Bible will be a very strange set of texts. Christianity has ruined it.

Thanks for your response to my response. Now that I know someone's listening, I'll oppress you with responses to some other trombonemollyisms--they're very well written, very thoughtful. The trouble with blogs, though, is that you have to do them for the fun of it, like websites. Everyone has a blog (almost), so hardly any of them will be read. But think about the scholars of the future. They can build a life career out of blogosophies of blogology and barely scratch the surface. No one need ever disappear anonymously into the dustbin of history again; we'll all live forever in history books or works of scholarship. Even our post-blog notes back and forth will be topics of analysis in the new utopia of immortality. Hey, I should put this in a blog--I've gone too many days without an idea--maybe this will count as one.

And here it is.