Increasingly I find myself drawn to the Bible. The King James Bible. Of course.
I'm not remotely religious if you define religion as believing in supernatural stories, impossible events, miracles, ridiculously tight social codes. The sublimation of self, or humanity, to an abstract idea. Or if you believe that your belief is superior to any other person's belief. We are all grubs poking around on a dirt ball. None of us know the answers.
But some of us at least ask the questions.
Religion also discusses the great philosophical issues, the futilty of man's existence, how we should navigate living together as social beings. As a writer - though it might not seem so - I like to address big issues, confront existential questions. And more and more I find myself reaching for my battered copy of the King James Bible (or googling it online!).
1) It's a comfort, and a shock - to find that all the issues have been dealt with before, discussed before. As Ecclesiastes 1 has it, there is 'no new thing under the sun'. It also has some words to say about each generation forgetting the lessons learnt by the previous. It's humbling but reassuring to know that we all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.
2) As a writer, I can see The King James Bible is a beautiful document. The phrasing and quality of writing is top notch. I find myself marvelling at its ability to be at once profound but also carefully constructed so it could be read aloud. It's in the cadences, its in the repetitions, its in the well chosen words where the artistry lies. And it was deliberately made so.
3) As we live in a multi cultural society - and we do - then I find myself drawn towards investigating my own culture. The invisible thread that runs through England, the Anglo-sphere, through our history, is laid bare in the King James Bible. My ancestors would have known its words, understood its allusions, recited its parables, sought comfort and strength in its words.
To find wisdom. To write better. To understand better my own culture.
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
And who would disagree?
Laters, my flock