Saturday, October 24, 2009

Robert Alter on R. Crumb
....Perhaps the most winning aspect of Crumb’s Genesis is its inventive playfulness. He is keenly aware that many bizarre things happen in these stories, first in the primeval history because of its legendary character and then in the patriarchal narrative because of the writers’ deep interest in what is odd, paradoxical, and surprising in human behavior and in divine intervention......
I don't own a copy of Robert Alter's The Five Books of Moses, but his book The Art of Biblical Narrative was required reading for at least two courses which I took in seminary. Alter teaches Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley and it is his translation of Genesis which R. Crumb has used, more or less completely, in his Illustrated Book of Genesis (which should be arriving in my mailbox on Monday in time for me to bring it up to the Edinburgh clergy conference the following week in Pitlochry).

Robert Alter has written a review of Crumb's latest contribution. It appeared in the New Republic last week and can be found HERE.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The sort of news you see when you get up really early and flip through a few of your favourite church-related websites:

Ruth Gledhill has "Pope challenges bankers to adopt Catholic Ethics" which I guess is fine and good if the location is Venice or Florence and the Catholic Ethics in play are those of the Medicis and the Borgias. Wouldn't be much of a stretch, really. They're halfway there.

And speaking of "Catholic" and "adopt", it seems that the nice man from Forward in Faith is saying that a Diocese in Papua New Guinea is the "obvious choice" to be the first to request inclusion in this new Anglican Use Rite which the Pope is proposing for disaffected Anglicans.

One thing I'll say for disaffected Anglicans - they do get around. There really is no spot on the globe which they won't invoke, provoke or "mess with" in order to get back at the person living around the corner from them who they used to have lunch with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How can you not be enthused
by this?

I have just pre-ordered two copies of R. Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis. Raspberry Rabbit being a rather small furry creature in the world of online Anglican personages, I don't get sent advance copies for review like that nice Bishop chap down in Blighty who always has that earnest air about him. I have to wait. As do you.

I used to sell the Georgia Straight on the streetcorner in Victoria and Vancouver back in the very early seventies - back around the time Jim Morrison died - back in the days when the Georgia Straight was an honest-to-goodness underground newspaper. Back in the days when my fellow Junior High School students walked out of school to protest the testing of a nuclear device on the Aleutians and got together and occupied an abandoned bit of University Endowment Land until the Saanich Police arrived and we all had to scatter and then walk back to school looking innocent.

The good old days.

Robert Crumb's women were right out of the Louvre and, being far too young at the time to have seen many (any) women in a state of undress, Crumb's facsimile thereof had to suffice. I've since discovered that not all women have really thick ankles.

A recent article in the Telegraph about Crumb's illustrated version of Genesis consisted of all the predictable boilerplate you'd have expected and included, of course, that obligatory telephone call to anyone who fit the caricature of the media-unfriendly "christian" lobbyist for whom "lip pursing" is considered a charism and, in lieu of genuine holiness, outrage will do in a pinch.

Now that they've gone out of their way to find him, the headlines can "accurately relate" how cross we all are here in Jesus-land that our Holy Book has been illustrated with tits.

The cumulative reaction from most Christian circles (among others) is actually not anger or disquiet - quite the opposite, in fact. Many of us are aging fans of Fritz the Cat who needed work and so slapped on a clerical collar and learned Greek and we can hardly wait to get our hands on a copy.

So what would you want in its stead? The Church of England? Soft floppy people reading a Book which contains scads of PG 13 sex, violence and nakedness though you'd never know it from the way it's read from the lectern in a stained glass voice?

Nah, give me something that I have to pass around in brown paper wrappers. Give me something my 12 year old stepson has to discover while fishing around in my office for a forgotten package of Tic Tacs and then pretend that he hasn't been reading.

Bishop Nick has a bit about it HERE. Church Mouse la-bas. New York Times HERE. New Yorker talks about the research which went into the artwork HERE. Article in the Jewish Daily Forward HERE. A few notes on the translation which Crumb uses HERE

Monday, October 19, 2009


Ever since I young, I have had very intense dreams in which I was able to fly.

Effortlessly, by putting out my arms and pushing off with my feet, I have been able to soar above rivers and roads and mountains.

This video, posted on Facebook by my sister Ruth, is the closest thing to the type of flying which I am able to do when I'm asleep. Somehow I can't help believing that I would actually be able to do it were push to come to shove.

When I die, God is gonna let me fly like this for real!

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Good Audio Alert!

BBC 4's Runaway Train brings together the original radio conversations with Wesley McDonald, alone in the engine of a runaway train in New Brunswick in 1987, with interviews of those involved in the incident.

A thrilling listen online until the 24th of October. You'll want a cup of tea.