Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The summer tends to be a time where I have the opportunity to catch up on some of my reading. For the last several years, I try to read between six and twelve books annually with greater and lesser success. I do this in part to keep broadening my horizons and knowledge of how others see the world. That said, as you might imagine, my interests do lean more towards religious themes in nature and many of the authors I read represent that. However, I also enjoy writers who can comment intelligently on society at large. One of my favorites in this latter category is the author David Foster Wallace.
A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, he was considered to be one of the greatest and most original voices for Generation X. Some of his highlights include articles for Harper’s about things like the Illinois State Fair and a seven-night luxury cruise through the Caribbean which are uproariously funny to massive novels that clock in over 1000 pages like Infinite Jest. He is a difficult read, using complex vocabulary and sentences that at times run on for entire pages. Despite that, his writing has an amazing clarity which he applies to society and the world and makes the challenge in reading him worth it.
Sadly, Wallace suffered for many years from depression and ended up taking his life in 2008, leaving behind a wife and creating a void where his voice should still be making insightful observations on culture and what it
means to be an American in contemporary times.
Why bring any of this up? Well, in part, because I see that our nation and culture are at an interesting point of divergence from what has come before. Between Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and everything else that is happening in politics and culture at large, the country pre 2020 and post are going to be quite different. Wallace had a unique talent for seeing the world with a set of eyes that caught things that others either missed or could not articulate. I would be fascinated to know his perspective of these days and the larger implications of what we’re seeing in them.
True art helps to broaden and change one’s perspective on things. It helps us think more critically. We may not share the same tastes in writers or painters or musicians and that it quite okay. But I hope that we are able to enjoy art in such a way that it helps us think about the deeper things of life. And in doing so, may it lead us to the deepest truth, which can only be found in God.
Peace and Goodness,