Thursday, March 14, 2013

A community of readers

Commuter A: So, how was your Dostoyevsky?

Commuter B: Oh, it was great! Yeah! I've only just finished, and there's still so much to think about!

Commuter A: Oh! Like what...?

Commuter B: Well, it got me thinking a lot about the motivations for love, y'know, do we love because of passion, or sympathy, or empathy, or lust? Jealousy? What's a good reason to love someone? What's not? 

Commuter A: Hmmm, nice. 

Commuter B: Yeah, yeah, it was really thought provoking. And, y'know, just other stuff like, whether or not the death penalty's fair, what 'disability' actually means... What would it be like if Jesus turned up here, in Sydney, and hung out with people. 

Commuter A: Hmmm. Yeah! An interesting thought. I mean, would he just be like, "burn the heathen!” Or would he be like, "hey guys, calm down,” y'know? “Don't be so judgmental, I said ‘love one another’, not smack down!" Y'know?

Commuter B: Well, yeah! It is a pretty interesting thing to think about, cos, certainly in Jewish society, He just did a bit of both. Like some people, He said, were "white washed tombs", cos they looked good on the outside but had evil hearts. And other people, like, prostitutes, tax collectors people who their society hated, He was really kind and loving... 

Commuter A: Mmmm…

Commuter B: I think that's what I liked best about The Idiot, I don't agree with every aspect from, like, a 'religious' perspective, but I think Dostoyevsky did a good job of showing that Jesus looked into peoples’ hearts for the truth. He thought about what their whole lives had been like, what advantages and disadvantages they'd had. He was very forgiving. Is very forgiving! But He's not afraid of the truth, even when it means people mock him. So yeah, I thought, all in all, the book had a lot to say about who Jesus is...

Commuter A: Hmmm. Sounds interesting.

Commuter B: Yeah! Yeah.

Commuter A: Mmm...

Commuter B: Um, soooo, what're you thinking of reading next? Did you finish Fifty Shades?

Commuter A: Yeah, yeah. Goodness, what a book! It was pretty racy, like everyone said, but yeah, I finished it pretty quickly. So yeah, I dunno. What're you gonna read next?

Commuter B: Well, I was thinking of reading something a bit more contemporary next, y'know, mix it up a little. Would you like to read something with me? We could compare notes?

Commuter A: Yeah! Yeah, that sounds like fun. Mmm. 

Commuter B: Great! Hmmm... Welllll, the Australian Women's Writers have a yearly challenge to read books by female authors, I've been following them on Twitter, maybe we should sign up?

Commuter A: Oh great, yeah, sounds really good.

Obviously this is another fictional, perhaps idealised conversation between commuters - although it does reflect many I've had myself with new friends and old. One of the strengths of literature as far as I'm concerned is that it draw people into community, a community of ideas, which, especially when matched by a community of relationship and love, is a powerful, world changing mechanism of existence. 

So, now you've finished The Idiot - keep going! Read with me, read with us, and think about what you've read, ponder how the stories and words have made you feel, and share those impressions with the world around you. 

May the God of all truth, beauty and goodness accompany us to our libraries. 


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