Whatever happened to the essay? That extended piece of writing which allowed an author to say his or her bit on a topic of choice, with erudition and wit, not to mention excursi as time and theme allowed .Its natural home was The New Yorker and prime journals- I hesitate to use a word as louche as 'magazine'- of that ilk. These thoughts are prompted by a recent reading of an essay by Gore Vidal, now deceased, but at one time the urbane, deadly skewer and scourge, inter alia, of the inconsistencies of American policy.
The essay demanded of its readers time to read it and digest it, to absorb its erudition, enjoy its unfolding, take note of its thesis. So different from the home life of our own dear experience; who has time to read something that long? We rely on much shorter snatches of news and opinions, views, reviews and sound-bites to mould our world picture.
This has implications for the faith. I wonder who, apart from priests and academics, reads the longueurs and tight arguments of theology nowadays. Indeed, who reads the Bible? I changed the epistle reading (legitimately- it was a lectionary alternative) at a service one time, and the churchwarden, Bible in hand, said to me 'You find it- I'm no good at this'. If we do not read the text we say we live by, how can we judge that what we hear, sing, pray, preach, bears any relationship to the faith, handed down?
The intercessions of St, Jude, patron saint of lost causes, are needed here. Enabling a good read, not only of the scriptures, but of much that shapes and shakes our world, so that we have some understanding of where we come from, where God wants to take us, and how near to, or far from that our primrose path may be taking us.