She began with Philip Larkin's poem, "Days," quoting just the last bit: "Where can we live but days..." to the end. But here is the little wonderful thing in full, and then I have to share a few things for pondering.
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
She said: how fun to read a poem by a particularly wicked poet in a place like, well, look around you.
But the best moment was when Kathleen (may I call her Kathleen?) looked up and remarked that this current culture is weird like a piece of dystopia fiction. She referenced Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death in which he remarks on Orwell's fear of a totalitarian government and the terror and suffering it would inflict on society -- and that our condition is worse than that.
The society of 1984, as portrayed by the protagonist Winston Smith, desires to be free....it possesses those "rags of nobility" that C. S. Lewis mentions in The Abolition of Man and in the character of Mark Studdock in That Hideous Strength. People suffer under oppression when they recognize that their leadership is cruel and unjust. Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind.
I remember reading recently Mike Kim's Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World's Most Repressive Country, and he recounts walking alongside a soldier and coming across a boy, perhaps eight years old, sitting in the middle of the street, his head in his hands, screaming. Disturbed,Kim asks his companion, "What's wrong with him?" and the soldier responds: "Oh, he's just realized that he's North Korean." I haven't been able to finish the book yet.
But our society is worse. Postman draws the reader's, in this case Kathleen's, attention to Brave New World:
"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one."-- Amusing Ourselves to Death
At this point, the gathering in Trinity Church became full of little moans and gasps. This is never an easy truth to look at. Postman continues,
"Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture."
Kathleen only added to this, "I need to read more Huxley, because he is describing the world I know."
What I've mentioned here is painfully out of context, I wish you had simply been there with me to hear the lecture. Perhaps the most remarkable thing was that it wasn't anything new, nor did Kathleen Norris present it in a new way -- she is wonderfully gifted in presenting it clearly and in an accessible way....but the truly remarkable thing was that the audience was one that wanted to listen. Orwell's work met with controversy, Huxley's book has been banned from various countries and schools for many reasons. But last night people wanted to hear a Christian tell these truths.