Friday, November 19, 2010

stuff I have been reading

Sometimes I wonder about making this blog a book and film diary, as I always forget what I've seen and read and regret it.

Anyway, of the books I recall, I've recently ploughed through Mantel's Wolf Hall, the Larsson trilogy, Greene's The Man Within, Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (never read before - how awful!), Williams Thanks and Silence & Honeycakes and Hauerwas Resident Aliens. Also an anthology of modernist short stories edited by Malcolm Bradbury.

Actually, I really enjoyed them all. Boring that, isn't it? Larsson got a bit tedious as it went on - I mean, how appealing did he (aka Mikael Blomkvist: author and hero are clearly one and the same in the former's imagination) think he was to women??? Get over yourself! But a good way to pass an hour or ten, in the main.

Loved Wolf Hall. Can't wait for part 2 of Cromwell's life to come out. Can you imagine having Henry VIII as your boss? Workplace stress redefined!

Dead interesting to read Hauerwas, who we heard speak at Greenbelt. He wasn't a very good speaker but I was sufficiently intrigued by his ideas to buy the book, which has provoked lots of thoughts. Not in absolute agreement on the church as totally distinctive 'colony' within society. But did make me question whether my particular brand of liberalism at times contributes to the church seeming obsolete rather than the radical community it can be at its best.

More on that later, no doubt.

Good old Rowan an inspiration, as ever. Thank God for a man such as him as our archbishop. Quite seriously.

Friday, November 05, 2010

craftsmanship

We all admire people with charisma, confidence and 'the x-factor'. Big personality and little effort win the day. Celebrity is most desirable. Many of our industries rely on marketing and PR departments because the actual content of what they're offering doesn't matter: if they can persuade people to buy it, they're successful.


If I'm not immediately good at a task (or able to appear so) I am tempted to give up. I assume the 'right' places for me to be in life are those where from the outset I feel confident, get admiration and have no need for being the stranger, for tuition, for practice and discipline.

Craftsmanship is unfashionable. That is, real mastery of a skill, situation, area of expertise, relationship or sense of community. It can only be achieved by trying over and over and waiting and failing and persisting. All the while learning from others who're further advanced. And few of us have patience with that.

I'd like to really get to know the people around me properly. And to develop the infant skills I have so I can be my most effective. But am I willing to listen to others, and be a novice and fall over a few times in the process? I hope so. I think that is the way forward. Whatever Simon Cowell and Alan Sugar may have to say about it.