Posts Tagged 'douglas coupland'

Brickbat.

“I used to want to plant bombs at the last night of the proms.
But, now you’ll find me with the baby in the bathroom
With that big shell, listening for the sound of the sea.
The baby and me”.

From “Brickbat” by Billy Bragg.

 

Douglas Coupland entitled his 2001 novel, “All Families Are Psychotic”.  I think the title was memorable and connected with many of us.  It put a smirk on our faces.  It became a cult classic.

The thing is that we all belong to families.  They may be conventional nuclear families or a whole myriad of other set-ups.  You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.

I find it easy to think of church community as a family.  That has been my very real experience in the darkest hours of life or the most trying times.  My four best friends are like brothers to me.  I refer to them all as “bro” regularly.  Would we be as close if we didn’t share a common faith that bonds us that way?  Would my marriage be the way it is if I stopped reminding myself that I’ve to love my wife in the same way that Christ loves the church?  I think that means I’d be prepared to die for her.  That thought often puts tidying up after myself or other menial tasks in proper perspective…

Yesterday, however, Karl said something that really got me thinking.  I know many people find it hard to relate to the concept of God as a “Loving Heavenly Father”, because their own perceptions have been tarnished by the way their own Father’s are or have been.  Thankfully, that has not been my own experience.  That said, if our own experience of our earthly Father is the lense through which we see our Heavenly Father, then that’s a really big deal.

The thing that struck me right between the eyes is that the way in which my children will perceive the notion of Father God will be influenced hugely by how they perceive me.  Now, that’s a REALLY BIG deal!  I think fondly of happy, sun-speckled, cozy, snap shots of intimate moments with my little family unit, but I also recoil in the thoughts of those times when I’m at my whit’s end, hassled, grumpy and determined to get onto the next thing…

It’s good to have another hook to pull my attitude back into line…

Wrapped Up In Books

“I will say a prayer, just while you are sitting there.
I will wrap my hands around you.
I know it will be fine.
We’ve got a fantasy affair.
We didn’t get wet, we didn’t dare.
Our aspirations, are wrapped up in books.
Our inclinations are hidden in looks”.

From “Wrapped Up In Books” by Belle And Sebastian.

P8310042

We had a rare chance to enjoy a night wandering our city as summer waned to an end and the festival reached its climax the other week.  I felt strangely sussed and bookish as we trod through the marquees that housed the International Book Festival and which inhabited Charlotte Square, a green space in Edinburgh’s West End usually gated and locked off to the city’s residents.

We managed to catch my favourite author, Douglas Coupland, do a reading from his new novel “Generation A”.  The crowd were eating out of his hands even though we discovered he was pretty hopeless at reading his own prose and several of his opening jokes died completely. 

The Q and A session was wonderful.  He came over as warmer than I imagined from his type-casting of himself in J-Pod.  His mind wandered as he talked of our unique point in history, listening to an author who made his name with “Generation X” in 1991 and was now reading from an old form of media (a book) in a world where a largely collapsed bank was providing corporate sponsorship to an event where everyone was familiar with technology that had contributed to it’s downfall – at a point in time where everything was up for grabs.  He had such insight and wonderment of the near future and the role of advancing technology and its effect upon the human condition.

As social networking is often portrayed as enabling us to present an improved version of our virtual selves and to be insular and have less social-interaction, his new novel reverts to the idea of people telling stories to make sense of their place in the world.  Isn’t that what we have all loved and learned from throughout history? – Stories?

As for the greatest story ever told, Coupland mused about his own family’s involvement in fundamentalist Christianity in previous generations and his own parent’s desire not to impose that upon their three sons.  And, yet, Douglas said that he always had a sense of curiosity about such things and whilst he couldn’t picture God, he believed in the idea…

It was a fascinating night with someone who would now definitely be at my fantasy dinner party.

We Are Nowhere And It’s Now

“Why are you scared to dream of God

When it’s salvation that you want?”

From “We Are Nowhere And It’s Now” by Bright Eyes.

The above is nothing short of one of the finest songs written which truly conveys and captures the human condition.  The bleakness, lost-ness and yearning for hope we all feel at times…the truth we long for and the manner in which we silence the nagging voice of our conscience…the well trodden path of old routines and comfort we all too often seek…

Paul walked the streets of Athens in Greece nearly 2000 years ago and observed the culture and creativity.  He sought to interpret what people were trying to convey.  He mused, “Men of Athens! I see in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UN-KNOWN GOD.  Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you”. (Acts Ch 17:23). 

There is a yearning in each one of us.  What we fill it with is dependent upon our own freewill.  Are we scared to face up to life’s big questions?  Can we make it on our own strength?  Are we willing to admit our vulnerability and weaknesses?  Do we think we are in need of rescue?  If there really is a God, what would that demand of us?       

The song title above reminds me of a scene from Douglas Coupland’s wonderful novel “Hey Nostradamus!” where the doodles upon a key character’s school folder cause much questioning in the minds of those left behind after her death.  She had scribbled repeatedly “God is nowhere…God is now here…” over and over again. 

Which will it be for you? 

Which will it be for me?


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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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