Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same sea-taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. Its panelled front was in the likeness of ship’s bluff bows, and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship’s fiddle-headed beak.
What could be more full of meaning?- for the pulpit is ever the earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first described, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.
Ishmael is describing the pulpit of the seaside chapel in an early chapter of Moby Dick. I’m halfway through the novel (for the first time) and have been consistently surprised by it, including lots of LOL moments and, as quoted above, the consistent and nuanced role of religion throughout Melville’s novel.
Our family is anticipating some quiet vacation time in the coming days. As we’ve done the past few years, we’ll be staying at a friend’s cottage. It’s not quite the middle of nowhere but there’s nothing noisy within a 30 minute drive. Just how we like it. Walks, playing in the lake, cooking, sleeping and reading is the extent of our activity.
Have you read any books this summer worth recommending?
For this trip I’ll finish up The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey, the first book in a series featuring the gruff dective Peter Diamond. I’ve read very little in the detective/mystery genre but have been enjoying this book enough that I’ll likely pick up the next installment from the library.
The library also provided Chicago author Joseph Epstein’s Snobbery: The American Version. Epstein is a great essayist and I’ve read his book on friendship a couple of times.
I recently picked up the handsomely-bound Collins Classics edition of Moby Dick (nope, never read it.) at our local used bookstore and it will make the trip to the cottage as well. Most dusk jackets go directly into the trash can when I bring home a hardcover but I may hang onto this one.
Also making the trip is the current issue of Image Journal, N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament, a friend’s chapter from American Christianities, and Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating by Norman Wirzba.