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Posted August 9, 2006

Book: The Shadow of God: A Journey through Memory, Art, and Faith
Author: Charles Scribner III
Doubleday, New York. 2006. Pp. 291

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Shadow of God is part memoir, part spiritual autobiography, and part tour of great works of art, literature, and music. In the form of a journal written over the course of a year, Scribner shares childhood recollections of a household where figures like Ernest Hemingwya and F. Scott Fitzgerald were family friends. He tells stories from his own noteworthy publishing career, from his reflections on faith, and from his work as an authority on baroque art.

Born an Episcopalian, he charts the story of his interior life and the importance of the arts in helping him choose the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual paths he would follow, including his conversion to Catholicism. He asks himself questions like “How far back are the roots of faith?” Scribner writes with contagious enthusiasm about the pivotal truths he discovered from novels of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh and the inspiration he found in art, music, opera, and the Bible.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Sunday, June 2, 2002

Today, the Feast of Corpus Christi, I learned in Father Mario’s homily at St. Jean Baptiste that some of the California redwoods date back as far as King David — three thousand years. These ancient, miraculously durable trees, it appears, do not have unusually deep roots to withstand millennia of wind and hostile weather. Their roots, in fact, are surprisingly shallow; what sets them apart from others is their closeness, which in turn has resulted in their roots being intertwined and reinforced like a tightly woven fabric. They stand as a symbol of the power of interdependence, of community — indeed, of the Church, or body of Christ, composed of so many millions of bodies and souls, yet one.

I also relearned today something I had long forgotten, despite those years of ancient Greek at St. Paul’s: that our word poem derives from the Greek “to make.” If creation is one vast poem, then our divine maker is, literally, a poet first and last, alpha and omega. This epiphany, as the stained glass windows glowed in twilight reflected by the windows surrounding apartment houses, is cast in a simple, one-word translation: to see the universe as a vast epic (or lyrical) poem. God the poet requires no great leap of imagination or sublimation of science — only an equation between word and creation. “In the beginning was the Word.”

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