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

After 13 Years, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton End It
                Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton have decided to end their thirteen year relationship. The couple is not married however, they have two kids together. Carter and Burton have worked together quite frequently. Tim admitted, in prior interviews, that they often had a rocky

posted 4:54:16pm Dec. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Director Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini Share Powerful Faith Lesson in Exclusive ‘Unbroken’ Featurette
Resilience. Faith. Forgiveness. The highly-anticipated film ‘Unbroken,’ inspired by the life of former Olympian, WWII veteran and POW Survivor, Louis Zamperini isn’t just a story about his incredible life. It’s a powerful story about his faith. Acclaimed actress Angelina Jolie, who directed

posted 10:03:13am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Big Faith and a True Father-Son Bond
The film "Little" Boy is based on a seven-year-old boy working to move mountains to end World War II so his father and best friend can return home. Regardless of his size or age, this youth’s faith is unstoppable. Executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett team up with the producers of

posted 11:01:58am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

#MARCHON
In light of recent occurrences in addition to our day-to-day - we need, more than ever, to march on. #Marchon is a national platform for justice. It's the opportunity to let the world know what and how you feel. What are you passionate about? What do you believe needs to change? Where does the actio

posted 2:28:57pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Classic with a Modern Twist: What to Expect from Annie
It's a film that the whole family will enjoy. It's a film that will inspire you to look at life in a different lens. Moreover, it's a film that will keep you wanting more - what film are we talking about? None other than Annie. The talented cast include Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne,

posted 8:00:55am Dec. 15, 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.