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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 3, 1975)
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A Month of Sundays by John Updike. Published by Alfred A.
Knopf, New York, N.Y. $6.95.
John Updike is a writer who seems to be ignored by a large part
of the college population. Few know of his rueful sense of humor,
his sensitive, observant, elegant prose and the ultimate power of his
bcoks-not a bolt of truth, but something that worms its way
underneath the skin, from time to time enveloping our intellectual
nerve endings. '
It is hard to understand how such a fine writer could be brushed
aside in favor of some of the flashy but unsatisfying, work that
seems to command our attention. And it isn't because Updike's
books are not provocative; sex as an important part our life's
discomfort and our life's design is a theme Updike has pursued
explicity since the publication of his novel Couples.
Picture of the times
Perhaps it is because he does not seem to be of our generation,
or because his characters are always older than we are. Yet his
work such as Rabbit Redux, present a picture of our times which is
hard to equal, even in the works of younger writers.
Updike's latest novel, A Month of Sundays, involves a minister
who is sent by his bishop to the desert to recuperate and repent
because he has been philandering with several of the women in the
congregation. Instead of being defrocked, he is placed far away
from the seed of temptation. Part of his therapy involves writing a
recount of his experiences that were his religious downfall as a
clergyman and as a man. It is an expanded confession of his
life his relationship with an unresponsive wife, the burden of his
profession which he did not always bear and the interludes of
sensuality for which there is an inevitable price. It is a type of
parable, and like all good parables, it includes a healthy amount of
guilt, uncertainty and pain.
Faith is not the center of the book, yet the clergyman wonders
abstractedly about it while he speaks to the congregation in his
Empathy for Jesus
"Let us become Jesus for these moments. Let us seek empathy
with the Son of God who, as He was truly man, and who
underwent the crucifixion in uncertainty and dread, must have
conceived of this mad prank, of looking for money in the mouth of
a random fish, with some dubiousness; yet it worked. Or imagine
yourself Him when, in His first miracle, His powers green and
unproven, He bid the servants to fill the waterpots with water to
the brim and bear them unto the governor of the feast. Suppose
the water had not become wine but still proved, in the governor's
mouth, water? That would be comedy too, but of a different kind;
a grim and pratfallen kind-our mortal kind."
OftfdrS Our mortal kind is what the pastor knows, both within himself
nj nenn1ft he nrear.hes to and Dities. Let US emoathv with
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him, he asks, and ultimately with ourselves.
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thursday, april 3, 1975
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