Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ahead of her Time; Pym Comments on Religion

I listened this morning to a British writer on NPR discussing the role of religion in our lives. One interesting comment he made was that even atheists, like himself, need exposure to religion for intellectual and cultural enrichment, if nothing else.  More on that in some other future post, especially in Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Common Person, where one of my original tips is "be spiritual."

The second point the British author made was that in our world, religion is being replaced by other institutions, including and especially, Medicine.  Medical science does indeed seem to be our God, even if it's just WebMD.  I could wax poetic on this topic, too, but suffice it to say that civilization once looked to its hunter/gatherers for survival and inspiration.  Then, it looked to its bards for it, then to its priests, who replaced the bards and the hunter/gatherers.  When it became easier to find food to survive, and shelter to protect us, we could look to our souls.

Then, we turned to medicine, to live longer and stay younger, and all else fell by the wayside.

Barbara Pym realized this shift in religion, if you will.  She had a foot in religion, medical science, and social science, as well as literature. [Please forgive the cliché/bad metaphor].  In Quartet in Autumn, we see the shift take place with Marcia.  Marcia's god and knight in shining armor is Mr. Strong, her surgeon, who sees her through her battle with breast cancer. Religion is not big in her life; instead, she is inspired by Mr. Strong, and by collecting bags, milk bottles, and string.

Norman, her coworker, is more in tune with religion, but with him, it is more a hobby than a matter of belief.  It is his lifestyle, his "something to love."

If you are interested in reading more on this topic, see my book, The Subversion of Romance in the  Novels of Barbara Pym.

Image result for quartet in autumnPublic Domain

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