Sunday, March 25, 2007

In the world. . .

A good "just for fun read" is Brother Odd by Dean Koontz.

Odd Thomas is a Koontz character introduced to readers a few novels back.

In this book, "Oddie" finds himself in retreat at St. Bartholomew's Abbey on the California side of the Sierra Nevada range. It is here, inside the Abbey, that the really strange story unfolds. Koontz ends his tale in a way that makes it clear that we haven't heard the last of Brother Odd!

Surprisingly, I found some fairly amazing quotes buried in the science fiction. I'll share one now and then in coming posts.

Listen in to the conversation Brother Odd has with his beloved "Brother Knuckles."

"Though if I was your dad," Brother Knuckles continued, "you'd probably be shorter and thicker, with your head set closer to your shoulders."

"I don't need a neck anyway," I said. "I never wear ties."

"No, son, you need a neck so you can stick it out. That's what you do. That's who you are."

"Lately, I've been thinking I might get myself measured for a habit, become a novice."

He returned to his chair but only sat on the arm of it, studying me. After consideration, he said, "Maybe someday you'll hear the call, but not anytime soon. You're of the world, and need to be."

I shook my head. "I don't think I need to be of the world."

"The world needs you to be out there in it. You got things to do, son."

"That's what I'm afraid of. The things I'll have to do."

"The monastery ain't a hideout. A mug wants to come in here, take the vows, he should come because he wants to open himself to somethin' bigger than the world, not because he wants to close himself up in a little ball like a pill bug."


Jeremy Gregg said...

I think that there is a great misunderstanding about what drives a person to the monastery (here, I am speaking as a Catholic of the Catholic monastic tradition, but I suppose there are parallels to other religious devotions as well). I also speak as the brother of a man who has recently chosen that path, and as someone who is contemplating his own walk with God in this world.

Turning away from the world is turning away from the revelation of God.

I think that there are many ways of doing this. One is by entering the monastic life to escape the world. The other is by burying yourself in select parts of the world that you find comforting, and avoiding the pain of the world.

In this way, I am beginning to learn more about how turning away from the pain of the world is turning away from the purest manifestation of Christ before us.

Choosing to face the pain, but with an open, hopeful heart... I think that is the great test of this life.

Jeremy Gregg said...

One more thought:

A monastery is no haven from the pains of the world. Indeed, in the silences of its halls, one can perhaps more easily hear the cry of those in need than even in the screaming streets of the city.

Where man falls mute, God sings.