Monday, December 21, 2009
Michael P.'s and Lisa's welcome discussion of movies and culture reminds me of something I've been meaning to mention here since Bob Hockett introduced, maybe two months ago now (I haven't looked back), the issue of spiritualities such as the Franciscan, Ignatian, Carmelite, etc. The thing I would like to mention is Mr. Blue, a short and wonderfully rich book by Myles Connolly. Maybe lots of folks already know about this book, but it was new to me when I discovered it on the shelf of a very fine Christian book store. Originally published in 1928, it's now out in a fresh edition that begins with a preface by John Breslin SJ, which includes this: "Blue . . . was a uniquely American personality. As Myles Connolly wrote him, J. Blue was the man whom the ambitious Jay Gatsby might have become had he steered by a higher truth than the sound of money in Daisy Buchanan's voice." Blue is a contemporary St. Francis figure. When he inherits a fortune, "he exchanged money for everything possible. He exchanged it with the poor for their delight. He exchanged it with the helpless for lighter hearts. I thought at one time he was setting a bad example for other plutocrats. But the fear was unfounded. Nobody imitated him." (p. 9) There is reason to believe that Connolly wrote Mr. Blue after reading Chesterton's life of St. Francis. Anyway, it's a delightful picture of what it might look like to take Christianity seriously, in the Franciscan way, in the modern world.