All entries for Sunday 22 July 2007

July 22, 2007

Theology

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For oh you’re like a ghost in your own home
Nobody hears U crying all alone
Oh U are the one true really voiceless one
They have their backs turned to you for worship of
Gold and stone.
(From ‘Out of The Depths’)

The themes of all the songs in this new Sinead O’Connor album come directly from the Old Testament. The Song of Songs, Jeremiah, and the Psalms are all quoted extensively and intermingled throughout as O’Connor sings of God, his love, and the abandonment of his people as related in Scripture. Tragic in places and joyful in others, O’Connor gives a musical interpretation of Old Testament passages that is emotional whilst at the same time balanced and fair.


St Deiniol's Library

Writing about web page http://www.st-deiniols.co.uk/default.htm

I recently returned from a very productive week at St Deiniol’s library in Hawarden, Flintshire. Its numerous books relating to nineteenth century theology proved invaluable for my research. Set in beautiful surroundings and in easy reach of Chester, the library was a lovely place to stay.


Ruth

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Published in 1853, Elizabeth Gaskell’s second novel deals with issues of identity, religion, and with the dilemmas that surrounded unmarried mothers. After being seduced by the wealthy albeit cowardly Bellingham as a naive sixteen year old, a future of adversary and trial is decided for Ruth. As an orphan working as a badly treated dressmaker’s assistant, Ruth is shown to have no power in her relationship with Bellingham nor any choice over her subsequent pregnancy. Nevertheless, typically, it is her who is classified as the ‘impudent and hardened’ (p 89) party capable of trapping an innocent male in her clever artifices. After being heartlessly abandoned by Bellingham, Ruth’s despair reaches its peak. Subsequently, rescuing her from suicide, Mr Benson, a dissenting minister takes her back to live in his house which he shares with his sister. The decision to disguise Ruth as a widow to prevent any outbreaks of scandal establishes her as a pure and inoffensive member of the community. With her change of circumstances and her change of name, Ruth is able to bring up her son Leonard and work as governess in relative security despite the demons of her past. It is only when her true identity is discovered that her troubles are escalated and the full force of what it meant to exist as an unmarried mother in Victorian Britain is made explicit. Redemption does eventually come at a cost. Ruth’s place in the heart of the community is secured by her willingness to put others first as she nurses the victims of the typhus fever that was sweeping the country. A twist of fate sees her giving up her life to nurse Mr Bellingham back to health. Although the novel becomes increasingly sentimental at this point, it is nonetheless poignant. Biblical themes and motifs abound and the plight of the unmarried mother is considered in a sympathetic light.


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