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blind-faith attitude—ends up being the only religion accepted in the public square. But Vargas Llosa does not go into these consequences. It can be said that this is an interesting essay for public debate, and that its author solidly questions many manifestations of today’s culture. Such manifestations are not bad in themselves but become seriously threatening when they tend to substitute real (high) culture, which is mainly characterized by its capacity to give cohesion to social life. By contrast, today’s culture is rather a narcotic that precludes citizens from developing a serious intellectual life and from seeing beyond the frivolity created by the market, the media, and intellectuals themselves. It is true that some of Vargas Llosa’s proposals sound Manichean or simplistic. He, for example, seems to forget that literary works we now consider high culture were mostly mass-oriented in their times. By the same token, authors such as Cervantes, Dumas, or Poe also wrote works for massive consumption. In this regard, one misses some considerations about how history and the passing of time can render aura to almost any cultural manifestation. Also, Vargas Llosa’s considerations of moral and spiritual issues come from a secularized perspective, thus showing some weakness when evaluating the role of religion and believers in public life. Nonetheless, his book is an overall positive contribution to a serious debate that should produce more responses, engage the brightest intellectuals more frequently, and keep vindicating the unique role of high culture and the best literary works. José M. Martı́nez The University of Texas-Pan American Gavin D’Costa, Eleanor Nesbitt, Mark Pryce, Ruth Shelton, and Nicola Slee. Making Nothing Happen: Five Poets Explore Faith and Spirituality. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. ISBN 9-781-4094-5515-8. Pp. xiivii + 215. $39.95. The Diviners are a self-titled group of five poet-theologians who have met a few times a year for slightly over a decade. (Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, is a former member, and contributed the Foreword.) Their name plays on ‘‘The Divine’’ and on poetry as ‘‘a form of divination, a means of searching for the sacred, but also the means whereby we ourselves are searched out and our lives become the sacred ground in which the holy is discerned’’ (4). All the poets are within the ‘‘Christian faith (generously understood)’’ (1), a qualification that gestures at the heterogeneity of the group—two Anglicans, two Roman Catholics, and a Quaker—and at some theological explorations that are outside of strictly orthodox understandings of Christianity. Making Nothing Happen is a collection of essays and poems in response to W. H. Auden’s famous assertion, in ‘‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats,’’ (Collected Poems 2007), that ‘‘poetry makes nothing happen.’’ The Diviners posit that the ‘‘nothing’’ that poetry makes happen is the opening up of ‘‘creative, empty space’’ in which 498 Christianity & Literature 64(4) ‘‘language is celebrated and experienced in all its apophatic, contemplative glory’’ (1), a space that might be called ‘‘sacred, spiritual, or religious’’ (1). From this shared premise, each writer contributes a chapter reflecting on these sacred spaces in their lives, poetry, and theology, then follows with a collection of poems that illustrates that convergence. In ‘‘(W)riting like a Woman: In Search of a Feminist Theological Poetics,’’ Nicola Slee describes how her work as an ethnographer of women of faith and her engagement with the French feminism of Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva have been part of her wrestling to ‘‘integrate the semiotic and the symbolic without having to give up on either’’ (26). The communal responsibility to make space for the female imaginary to speak, pray, and play are evoked in poems, many with a liturgical purpose, that foreground the female body and directly or indirectly invoke the name of Christa, ‘‘the female Christ’’ (25). ‘‘Christa in the Wilderness’’ depicts Christa striding across urban blight, seeking ‘‘solitude’’ and ‘‘endlessly extending horizons’’ (39). ‘‘Anna’’ and ‘‘The mother’s rage’’ give voices to biblical women, the latter uncovering the anger that Mary, Jesus’ mother felt at every stage of his life: ‘‘The visions, the voices,/the countless disappearances’’ (35). ‘‘How to pray...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 498-501
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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