finished reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It's a Man Booker
prize winner (2002) and is now one of the texts on the Leaving Cert English
course. It's quite a spiritual book, in ways that surprised me, as being
intriguing and innovative from a purely literary point of view. I'm not
sure that I'd use it for the English course as it's long and very complex
and I'm not convinced that my students would take to it, but I could see
myself using quotes and extracts in the RE classes.
The story's central character, Pi Patel, is a young Indian boy who becomes
a castaway after a shipwreck, but this story goes way beyond your typical
castaway story. Pi is a very spiritual boy, and tries to practice a Christian,
a Muslim and a Hindu, at the same time. And yet this is no any-religion-will-do
philosophy, though younger readers might take it that way. It provides
one of the funniest moments in the book when Pi and his parents meet up
with the clergy of these three religions, each of whom claims Pi as a
follower and is taken aback to find he has been following the practices
of the other religions as well.
There is a wry humour throughout the book, but there is also a huge respect
for religion and belief in God. Pi holds to his faith in God through his
trials as a castaway, and when the ordeal is over (it's told in the first
person so I'm not giving anything away here) there is a surprising section
at the end that has a lot to say about belief in God as against other
beliefs. The point seems to be: as there is no absolute proof either way
on the existence of God, isn't the God story the better one to believe
17/6/08 On Today With Pat Kenny (RTE Radio 1) last week
Pat interviewed a monk from the Cistercian Abbey in Austria which has
had a surprise hit with the recent CD Chant - Music for Paradise.
The monk, whose name I missed, was full of enthusiasm for the music and
for his vocation. The monks had put a clip of their Gregorian chant
on YouTube (left) which they could point to when they heard Universal
Music was looking for a choir to sing Grgorian Chant for a new CD. It's
not my favourite music, and apart from getting school choirs to sing it,
I don't see much use for it in R.E., but I'm open to correction! But it's
great to see the monks' success, and great to see religious music making
an impression in the mainstream.
MAD 2008: Went yesterday to this new Christian Rock festival
near Glenealy Co Wicklow, and what an enjoyable afternoon it was. I arrived
in time to hear the Elation band (Irish group that has played before for
Youth 2000 and youth events at Knock) - hadn't heard them before and they
were really good - lively, driving soft rock hymns, when a excellent line
up of vocalists and musicians. Also impressive, and quite similar to Elation
in many ways, was Ben Cantelon and the Soul Survivor Band. Shel Perris
had a good voice and lively Christian message but sang to backing tracks,
which is not my cup of tea, though the younger people in the audience
seemed to be enjoying themselves. The audience was quite varied with I'd
say a slight predominance of teens and young adults, but plenty of parents
and youth leaders as well. The venue was excellent - loads of space and
toilets, free parking right beside the main tent, and very efficient stewarding.
If there was a fault it was that the music was way too loud! I saw some
people fleeing the tent and listening from outside, and I saw one fellow
strategically using cotton wool!
The event was nondenominational but coming mainly from an Evangelical
Protestant background. However, this Catholic founds lots to admire and
nothing to offend! Pics from the event here.