I finished Brideshead Revisited during the week. The second half concerned Charles Ryder's lapse into Catholicism. I say lapse, because it seemed just to make him more miserable. "Religion never was designed to make our pleasures less" wrote Isaac Watts. Quite right! The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets before we reach the hevenly fields or walk the golden streets. If it is just pie in the sky when you die, it is a pretty miserable religion. The old hymns emphasized the joy of religion. O happy day that fixed my choice on Thee, my Savior and my God. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Happy the man that finds the grace, the blessings of God's chosen race. Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ; nor is the least a thankful heart, that takes those gifts with joy. I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me. Great things he has taught us, great things he has done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the son. How good is the God we adore, our faithful, unchangeable friend! His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end!
So why was Charles Ryder so miserable?
After this I read Tuesdays with Morrie. Several people had recommended this to me, and I picked up a copy at a second-hand bookstore. It is a series of conversations between a well-known sports reporter and his old college professor who is dying of motor neurone disease. What we in the UK recognise as the Stephen Hawking Syndrome, but is better known in the States as the Lou Gehrig Disease. I have to say I was disappointed in it. Sure the old guy knew how to die, but the discussions were a bit superficial. It was full of apple pie aphorisms.
I have now started the new Terry Pratchett.