The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

A Good Story Is Our Story December 19, 2007

Filed under: advent,books,ecumenicism,storying — Joel @ 10:57 pm
I am currently enrolled in ‘vacation part 1′ in Regina, Saskatchewan with my wife’s family (heading to Minneapolis in a week), lovely. Amidst many relaxing things, i have been reading and have just finished The Promise by Chaim Potok; i dare say it ruined me and put me back together again.
    If you have any interest in textual criticism, it is fascinating, any interest in Judaism, educating, any interest in the nature of human conflict, illuminating, any interest in the relationship between father and son, essential.
    Potok writes the characters and i believe they exist, i think about them when i am not reading, i almost pray for them. This is good literature, an art which brings the central struggles and joys of being human into that succinct and slidy pill we call a story. we swallow it not because we believe in its strategic inner message or because of some abstract moral intention but because we are entranced by the correct image of ourselves in the self of another.

I’d like to write a few in-depth essays about The Promise, perhaps exploring themes like the nature of truth as it relates to a person’s history, mentors, suffering, etc… In Potok’s book, he has shown me that these things must be investigated if there is to be any hope of ecumenicism (even though his context is Judaism and mine Christianity) or friendship while passionately holding vastly different perspectives on the same faith. I also have begun to fall in love with the strength of culture i see in some expressions of Judaism (actually, strengths in various cultures); i would like to tunnel into that further.

So if you have any interest in being human or becoming further human, read first The Chosen and then (after a break) The Promise. You will not be sorry though your emotive side may ache, it is worth it.


5 Responses to “A Good Story Is Our Story”

  1. roflyer Says:

    Good thoughts, Joel. Looking forward to seeing you!

  2. Kira Says:

    If you loved this book, you should read both My Name is Asher Lev and the Gift of Asher Lev, both also by Potok. They ruin me annually.

  3. masonmusic Says:

    thanks ry, i’m excited to see you too! i’m bringing some good saskatchewan beer as well.

    kira, yes indeed, ‘my name is asher lev’ is next on my list but i need a bit of a break between books (as i’m sure you understand).

    all love to you and trip and anya and asher

  4. jess Says:

    i LOVE lovelove my ‘my name is asher lev’. a pivotal book in my youth–changed my life (i dare say). that and george macdonald (not that he’s a book) Joel, you’ve inspired me to try chaim again. i’m glad your hol’s are swell. say hi to katie for me.

  5. Matt Wiebe Says:

    The Promise would have a difficult time living up to The Chosen for me, as the former did some very deep things to me. Maybe I’ll have to give it a go anyways…

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