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Articles tagged "Religion"

Grande Sertão: Veredas (Bedeviled in the Badlands)

The following is an excerpt from the new translation of João Guimarães Rosa’s magnum opus, Grande Sertão: Veredas, first published in English in 1963. That translation soon fell out of print for reasons that are not entirely clear. As translator Alison Entrekin explains in her introduction to the piece on our blog, “[t]o read Grande Sertão: Veredas for the first time in Portuguese is like setting foot in a foreign country where the...

Notes on Credulity, part 2

Read the first part of this essay here. My father cherished two things: Mass and the opera. He was a cantor in the church and when he used to visit us in Berlin, where we lived for a number of years, he’d regularly visit the Komische Oper—always alone. Was he protecting what he loved from the perils of debate? Or did he intuit that when it comes to art and God we are always alone with ourselves? And then there’s this: I met my husband at a monastery in the south of...

from “The Confession”

In the spring of 2005 an exorcism took place in a small, unfinished monastery in Vaslui County in northwestern Romania. Casting out demons is more common in Romania than in the West, but there was nothing typical about this rite. A single priest officiated, whereas Church policy requires three. The person undergoing the ritual is generally a willing, quiet participant, accompanied by family. On this occasion, the hallucinating and unwilling victim lay restrained on an improvised stretcher...

God’s Obituary

Deceased yesterday morning, aged ninety-one, the English scientist Allan J. Winchmaster, the father of Genetic Architecture, better known as God. Winchmaster was found dead in the easy chair of his country home, in the area surrounding Bristol, England. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Winchmaster suffered from stomach cancer, but there is the suspicion that he may have been poisoned. In recent decades, the scientist lived with constant death threats. His body was cremated in...

The Boy in the Cave

Each and every person’s eyes all shine in the sky. The sea under the sky is limpid through and through. It seems the crying of countless newborn babes can be heard emerging from the sea 230 feet down 260 feet down that far down everything can be seen in the sea limpid limpid. Above the sea the sun eventually sets. It will rise again tomorrow. Rise and set again tomorrow. Ah, the sunset glow over the whole East Sea! Some hundred miles out from the shore out in...

My Father’s Antenna

The rumor started to spread in the beginning of autumn, just after the first rains. Soon it became a certainty: the Belbal family had acquired a television set. To tell the truth, the villagers didn’t really know what a television set was, but that only served to enhance the tale. The watchman at the clinic was the first to recount how workers dressed in blue overalls had appeared one fine morning before the Belbals’ door and how they had unloaded an enormous crate from an old...

from “Soul Mate”

My father-in-law, Feibush, arrived unannounced at my doorstep in the middle of the week. I was writing out a mezuzah and so, fortunately, my cabinet of secular books was closed. Feibush’s eyes brightened when he saw the parchment, the quill in my hand, and the large yarmulke upon my head. Only when his gaze rested upon the closed book cabinet did a kind of cloud descend over his face. I suspected that he knew full well what trials and tribulations hid upon those shelves. And though...

The May Crowning

For five years, Berenice waited for a chance to dematerialize her cousin, an objective she almost fulfilled the first time Dorotéia took part in the May Crowning, in the church on the square. It was an event staged on several tiers of wooden bleachers, where blue, pink, and white angels were arranged according to the vicar’s whim. The latter were the elite. Only elegant, fair-skinned, well-behaved girls got to wear white. On the top tier, suspended only by the Virgin...

Today You Must Pray to God

One morning the teacher came in for the first class, sat down heavily on the chair behind his desk, looked around the room, and said: "Today you must pray to God, for today a nuclear war will probably break out." He cleared his throat, drew a breath, and said: "Nuclear war" once more, his double chin wobbled, and silence fell on the room. Nuclear war. Arvid had heard them talking about that at home so he knew what it meant. It meant curtains for everyone, in earnest. Uncle Rolf...

Learning Cyrillic

1. I leave the church at nine sharp. Outside it is a clear, winter night, the church steps are slippery, the cold air slices my breath. I move slowly; I grab for the frozen shrubbery. Next time, I say to myself, wear high-topped shoes. Then I spot the Indian. He is standing by a round traffic sign. He has on a leather jacket with long fringes, and he is wearing boots decorated with Indian symbols. As I am walking by him, I see his eyes are closed. "Hey," says the Indian, "what's the...

from The Book of Words

One. Two. And three. During the first three years of school, we are required to cross our arms if we wish to rest them on our desktops when we aren't writing. Only when we are older, the teachers say, will we be permitted to lay one arm smooth and straight atop the other. When we pray, each hand rests flat against the other, no interlocking of fingers allowed. When it's time for recess, we exit the classroom one behind the other in single file, nice and slow, the teachers say....

An Empty Room

As the mountain crested its slope steepened. I was already sweating. A church appeared at the top of the crest. I thought I should rest there a bit before deciding when to descend. The war had just ended. The church was deserted. The altar, tables, and chairs had long been removed. Only the holy statue remained—Christ’s face, covered with dust, revealed an extraordinary quality of steadfast perseverance. Half the keys of an old piano still made a kind of grating sound. If...

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