Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


John Updike’s Passing

posted by Douglas Howe

Two wonders of literature passed away today and they will be missed. The first was John Updike, who succumbed to a long battle with lung cancer at 76. The second is the time in our history when authors represented the strongest voice in our culture; when what they had to say influenced the national discussion; when their insight, wit, relevance, craft and sublime touch on society’s pulse was both a work of art as well as work of leadership.
I first studied John Updike in college, having never heard of him. It wasn’t that I wasn’t well read, but I wasn’t from New York, where his work has appeared in The New Yorker since 1954 and where he also wrote frequently for the New York Review of Books.
He was most known for his “Rabbit” series, including “Rabbit, Run,” “Rabbit Redux,” “Rabbit Is Rich,” “Rabbit at Rest,” and “Rabbit Remembered.” One of the reasons he was so popular was that his primary subject was the typical small town, Protestant, middle class American. “Rabbit is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest” were Pulitzer Prize winners.
Suburban sexuality was at the center of many of his writings, so much so that I’m surprised the likes of Joe Eszterhas or Paul Verhoeven haven’t turned more of his novels into films. Some of his dryer lines about faith, life and the intersection of the two include:


• “Men are all heart and Women are all body. I don’t know who has the brains. God maybe.”
• “Gods do not answer letters.”
• “Fame is a mask that eats into the face.”
• “America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.”
• “An Irish temper makes you appreciate Lutherans.”
• “The great thing about the dead, they make space.”
Today, though, we live in an age where exponentially more Americans watch TV than read novels, and today’s movie stars and other celebrities are the ones our culture listens to. Many more Americans are more familiar with the movies made from Updike’s novels (“The Witches of Eastwick” was one) than his books. And also, we’re not as universal as we used to be. Our world is flat and wired, bigger, and smaller at the same time, multicultural and not as faith-centric. Updike’s writings competed with three networks. Today we have a thousand channels.
However, the best thing about literature is that it doesn’t go away. If you’d like to learn about the values of an America past and consider its relevance and insight into our world today, his writings are easy to find and his directness and humor makes them easy to read. I suspect Updike is already missed by an older generation, as is–to a large degree–his genre.
Here’s a more complete obituary from Hillel Italie of Associated Press. And here’s a great reflection on John Updike’s life and work from one of my seminary professors, Rob Johnston.
Yes, our culture now depends mostly on television, movies, pundits, nuveau celebrities and very young divas to guide our typical societal discourse. But Updike’s was a time when the deepest of thought, the most regular of comment, and the time taken to write and be read, once held a graceful and more dominant wave in our national congregation. He was a frequent and popular speaker in its pulpit.



Previous Posts

The Life of Yogananda Hits the Big Screen
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdnrP1fMn7I&list=UUkTfq0mIERmAh5jfbq1-krQ[/youtube] Have you ever wondered how yoga came to the West? The new feature documentary AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda examines the life and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. The Indian Swami brought meditati

posted 4:28:07pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Derrick Rose Donates $1 Million to Chicago Charity
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose donated $1 million to After School Matters - a Chicago charity that assists in organizing out-of-school apprenticeships for teens. The charity has a program at Simeon Career Academy, Rose's alma mater. After School Matters stated that Rose's donation is the larg

posted 1:46:39pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Go Behind the Scenes of the “Good Lie,” The True Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan Will Inspire You
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhGPaX3MXfE[/youtube] "The Good Lie” from the producers who brought you “The Blind Side” and starring Academy Award Winning actress Reese Witherspoon, chronicles the journeys of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that bega

posted 9:41:42am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Catching Up with Edwina Findley Dickerson
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZRp77ggsMU[/youtube] What do you get with OWN, Tyler Perry, Edwina Findley Dickerson, and a hot script? Viewers get “If Loving You is Wrong.” “As you could imagine, it’s a dream working with these two inspiring titans Oprah Winfrey and Tyler

posted 1:46:46pm Sep. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Dr. James Dobson and Son Update Popular Parenting Series
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDrYpZ7mt6g[/youtube] Family Talk Founder, Dr. James Dobson's powerful parenting series from 1978, Focus on the Family challenged millions of parents to look at their marriages and parenting in a whole new way. This year, Dr. Dobson and his son, Ryan are sh

posted 10:20:03am Sep. 23, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.