An Edmonton apartment overlooks the North Saskatchewan River. It is a building that has been around since the thirties or forties and is architecture of my mother’s time, a time when walking was the way through Edmonton and vehicle use was limited. The apartment is one I associate to Canadian literature as backdrop or setting to scene, a building that could feature in Mordecai Richler’s ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz’ or within Robertson Davies’ ‘Fifth Business.’
The apartment draws me to recall Morley Callaghan’s ‘Such is My Beloved.’ The novel looks at a priest in the Great Depression making sense of God’s Love and the encounter of his reaching out with Christian care to two prostitutes, an encounter in which his efforts are taken advantage of and as I now recall, a situation repeated for real much more recently and narrated more accurately in Nadia Bolz-Weber’s memoir, ‘Pastrix.’ In ‘Such is My Beloved,’ the cocoon of Church, Church-Life and Church politics, all, cloud the words of the great commission being lived out and because they are not current or used readily by the congregation their exploration by Father Dowling is an innocent and naïve endeavor, one done on the sly without others knowing, a first, sustained attempt that’s taken too far with aims of turning recipients’ Lives around.
The story functions as a morality play, unfortunately tragic in structure and is more cautionary about not living out the Great Commission. In actuality, the Great Commission is likely more of ‘do-what-you-can-with-what-you’re-presented-with;’ when lives begin to turn around the Church can mobilize with many resources.
Listening to – The Blind Boys of Alabama and ‘Run On for a Long Time,’ ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘Soldier’ and ‘Way Down the Hole.’
Quote to Inspire/Consider – “The camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibility toward the people photographed …. You are not intervening in their lives, only visiting them.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
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