The Field and the Fortress

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Radio address for September 22, 2013. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who, at some point in their adult life, have had their world view and their thinking radically changed, and those who haven’t. Regardless of what ideas you start with, and what ideas you end up with, the experience itself is deeply upsetting and wildly revitalizing: the whole world changes before your eyes and becomes new again. Every sight and sound is up for re-experiencing and reconsideration.

Mention is made of a pompous old essay I wrote when I was 22 called Art Fare for the Common Man.

The poem “The Swimmer’s Moment” by Margaret Avison was published by the University of Toronto Press in 1960, a few years before the author’s conversion to Christianity.

This week’s music is Stubborn Love by the Lumineers, Life is Life by Noah and the Whale, and a cover of Bon Iver’s Holocene by the Vitamin String Quartet.

Iver’s own music video for Holocene is one of my favorite music videos ever. The visuals, and the line “at once I knew, I was not magnificent” captures perfectly the sensation of having been let outside your own defenses.


  1. Rundy

    You say there are two types of people, but I might say there are three. (1) Those who have had their thinking radically challenged and changed (2) those who have had their thinking radically challenged and found it to stand the test, and (3) those who have never had their thinking challenged. To have all that you believe and hold crushingly challenged and questioned but to come out the other side of the crisis reaffirmed in what you have held does, I think, also change how you look at and hold what you believe even if on articulate grounds it has not changed. I would say such an experience causes one to more humbly hold what they believe.

    That said, I suspect you were using your superficial discussion about things of this world as an analogy for the experience of spiritual conversion. Of course in that bifurcation of people there is no third category.

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