Nothing on the news feed for nearly a fortnight, then two posts come along at once. Turns out I've used the phrase 'God loves you' no less than 7 times so far in the writing of book IV. Some sort of reflection, no doubt, on my own thoughts since beginning the writing of it a year or so ago. Of those, one is spoken by Edward Strelley and six are spoken to him. It's impossible for us, in this atheistic, secular world where participation in organised religion is reasonably scarce and full-blooded metaphysical commitment to the existence of a creator God even more so, to appreciate exactly the role played by religion in the past. I've said before that for Strelley to seriously contemplate that the world is truly without God is a much more significant conflict than it is for us in the 21st century. The paradigm, the background assumptions and, crucially I think, the framework of day-to-day life are all radically different. The passages from the Book of Common Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, the bible verses that evoke my own long-gone school days all seem to affect me so much precisely because, at a formative (vulnerable, perhaps) time in my life, they formed part of the backbone of my experience. The Philippians quote that recently adorned the front page (whatsoever things are pure, lovely and of good report) was a regular with my old headmaster, generally at either the start or end of a term. I will own that for fifteen years between leaving school and about three years ago, I would have heard or read it and it might have triggered a little reminisce, but now I can barely read the whole verse without losing it altogether.
Strelley asks over and again for God's love and forgiveness, but he complains that he does not hear the voice of God in reply. Cranmer advises him that the voice of God is still and small, and that if he expects thunder and fire, he will not get it. Let us hope for Strelley's sake that God does love and forgive him!
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought