Reflections on the Book of Job. “The story is bewildering, from beginning to end. How could God, being God, allow Satan to seduce him into destroying a good man? More important is the moral: that we have no right to question God for doing such things. Furthermore, the Book of Job seems to claim that all wrongs can be righted by property. If everything was taken away from Job, the problem is settled by God’s giving it all back” (4,100 words)
Dante’s 14C Divine Comedy continues to inspire. After perhaps 100 extant translations into English, this year brings two more from poets Clive James and Mary Jo Bang. Plus a novel from Dan Brown, Inferno, which uses Dante’s themes and imagery. “For all its absurdities, Brown’s book is a comfort, because it proves that the Divine Comedy is still alive in our culture”. As do the new translations, which are not great, but honourable (3,339 words)
Engaging essay, reviewing books about medieval saint’s life and work — even if it does go on a bit. Came from a rich family, debauched in youth, went to war, year in jail, changed man, worked with lepers, gave away everything. Church annexed him, suppressed his doctrine of poverty
“The reason that most people value fairy tales, I would say, is that they do not detain us with hope but simply validate what is.” They tell us that knowledge, or fear, of danger and deprivation is not fantastic, but realistic
Surveying the battle over the way we should speak. English “has always been a ragbag” and that has encouraged permissiveness. But the situation today is one of serious quarrel, between prescriptivists and descriptivists
TM Luhrmann is a scientist who joined evangelical churches in Chicago and Palo Alto to find out what was going on there. A world where women had “date nights” with Jesus, cooking special dinners and setting a place at table for him
Stieg Larsson smoked three packs a day, lived on hamburgers, and worked around the clock. His Millennium Trilogy was a powerful piece of detective fiction—but no more than that. Why has it been such an international best-seller?