Present:Imelda, Mary (guest) Brother Brendan, Mark, Ian, Peter O., Mary B., Brother Peter, Georgia.
BP-(announcement) The planned reading for the summer months, the trilogy by Sienkiewicz, is too long. I think it would be better for us to take just one of his works, for instance, "The Teutonic Knights", and read it over the summer.
As for the "End of the Affair" book, who do you think the protagonist was ?
G- Graham Greene
B- God is the protagonist- he is behind every scene, and mentioned frequently, "We both hated Him"
G- I was serious about Graham Greene- I think it was about his struggle with Catholicism…maybe he’d already converted and was still learning how to live it…
BP- He converted in 1928, I believe, and this was written..when? 1951?
Ian- He wasn’t a good living Catholic
B- WW2 disillusioned him, like Augustine..
Im- Bendrix had to work hard to evade God; it had a "Hound of Heaven" theme; Bendrix seemed to strive to be left out. He seems evil.
B He certainly wasn’t a nice person.
P- He seemed very cruel-you can’t like him, for instance his treatment of Henry.
Im- Even so, God’s not done with him yet…I got that impression at the end of the book..
MB- He only loves whom he hates- he hates God?. I think he has changed, now it’s about God.
BP and Im- (comments about love/ hate)
B- What is the significance of the "Common" in this book- it’s mentioned so often.
Mk- There’s a sort of "common" at school- where everyone meets.
P- It’s a public space..
BP- There’s a dichotomy between public and private- many people keep meeting there but then go off in pairs. It may signify that the Church has to take a public stance, and then be lived out privately; the characters either do this well, or not.
G- Why this frequent mention of love/ hate? Is it because of Greene’s own experience of the
Church and its "restrictions"?
B- Maybe it’s Britains’s antipathy, not Greene’s
G- Bendrix is so evil toward Sarah, and toward the Church; how could Greene know this without personal experience?
MB- He isn’t evil, not snubbing his nose at the Church. I think he was so full of hate and confusion, he couldn’t even see the good in Sarah- the good everyone else saw.
P- He can’t see the good in others- he doesn’t think there’s anything good in humanity…when there is goodness, he has to take them down..
BP- he even insists in cremating Sarah…
G- I didn’t know cremations were ever public like that…
B- I thought it was beautifully written-very good prose..
Im- yes, and he’s a good story-teller, his writing is compelling. I liked the line,"eternity is the absence of time." I found Bendrix to be obnoxiously into himself, but God was still after him.
P- He related to God like he did to people…
B- What made him that way?
BP-He had no friends..
Im- Comparing him to Tolkien, who had so many good friends, and led such a normal, social life.
P-There was a club Bendrix belonged to, but there were only two authors…
BP- nobody showed up…
MB- Why was it set during the war, since he wrote in ’51?
Im-He needed a backdrop for the miracle of recovery from bomb?
P- But why was Sarah out…
MB- …just wandering around..
B- The descriptions of the bombings are marvelous, but yes, that’s a good question…
BP- There a millions of people at war just across the channel, and Bendrix doesn’t even notice; he’s so wrapped up in himself
MB- Does he feel guilty somehow for not being in the war- he had a disability I think.
B- The war only hits home for him when he’s almost killed.
Ian- Don’t be too hard on Bendrix-he brought Sarah to God. The point about Smythe is that hatred of God is two steps closer to God.
B- "People who hate God…" (quote from Sarah). Does this remind anyone of Sebastian? [in "Brideshead Revisited"]
BP Sebastian believed in God, but he didn’t like Him. In the first part of this book Bendrix insists he and Sarah didn’t believe in God.
Im-As I read the miracles in this book I was reminded of Brother Brendan: last month- when I said Helena’s "miracle" was hokey, you called me an agnostic.
G- Last month we also complained about not getting in on very much of Helena’s conversion- and this month we hear almost too much about Sarah’s!
BP- The miracle stories are peculiar, especially Bendrix’s reaction to them.
P- He believes in coincidences…
MB- The movie of this didn’t follow the book well…for instance, they combined Smythe and the priest…
P- And they make a lot more of Bendrix’s death
Im- Are they normal things or are they miracles?
B- Pope John Paul 2 said that God’s hand was in everything…
BP- Bendrix is an essentialist- but he can’t see the importance of sacramentality. He obsesses over Sarah’s body
Ian- her living body- once she died the body didn’t matter
P- He rejected baptism, even baptism of desire
BP- That priest was so patient…
MB and G- Loved that priest- he had great lines…
BP Bendrix insists on cremation, showing his disinterest in the body
MB- I agree-he is somewhat of a believer, but doesn’t want to believe; his need to have her cremated shows his fear of the resurrection. Why is it raining so much of the time in this book…is it really that rainy in England?
G- Why the war? Why the rain?- maybe both were- reasons for everything that was going on.
Im-The rain caused the illness to become serious
B- and the fateful meeting with Henry…
Im-Henry was really intolerable dull, wasn’t he? Why did Sarah stay with him?
G- For security- then she could have as many affairs as she wanted.
P- Marriage provided her with a certain amount of respectability.
MB- Did she really have these affairs? Or were they only imagined by Bendrix?
Im-I thought it was clear they were real..
BP- [-tries to find places in the book where her affairs were attested to, but nothing was certain]
If Henry was boring, that led to his credibility-made the story more realistic; even the dull need to be dealt with.
Im- She was such a free-spirited woman, her life with him seemed suffocating, yet she stayed.
P- She was supposed to be good, rather than evil, therefore she stayed in the marriage.
G- Why was her mother brought into the story?
Im- It paved the way for another miracle..
G-Some of this book seemed contrived…
B-No, not contrived…it’s how we learn of Sarah’s baptism. She also provided some comic relief, as did Mr. Parkis’s son.
G- I saw him more as an abused child- getting exposed to such a business as this..
Im- I agree with Br. Brendan…
BP-Some of the characters bring lightness to the story, we get tired of Bendrix
P- There’s little hope with him…
B- The detective and his boy also give another view of Bendrix-he looked down on them
MB- He……the interview that could have made him someone..
Im- The boy was also the tool to bring in the documents…
BP…It’s time…we need to choose our next book.
"Soldier of the Great War" by Mark Helprin was suggested, as was "In This House of Brede.
Final decision: "The Teutonic Knights", by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
(But add the Helprin book to our list.)