Philip Whiteley's Blog

March 23, 2016

It’s not just cricket

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 4:11 pm

The theological discussions in Close of Play rarely get picked up on by readers and reviewers, but these were some of the first to be written. I wanted to have characters who reflected on life; who tried to match their beliefs to their actions, and who wrestled with what they believed, admitting to doubts about the church to which they had committed themselves. It’s true that doubt is more dramatically intriguing than certainty, but the deeper point that fascinates me is that you can’t really escape faith; to a very large extent we are what we believe. I’ve often observed secular people devoted to scientific evidence pronounce with absolute certainty on a complex matter on which they cannot possibly have gathered all relevant evidence. As humans we make mental short-cuts, we seek clarity, we have preferred narratives. In short, we are wired to believe.

So I’m delighted to be able to announce that the book has been reviewed in Church Times (print edition, 24th March, p 34); naturally, the Christian theme is central. The reviewer Rachel Harden highlights an observation early in the book, in which Brian “describes the frustrations of fellow parishioners at the indecisive nature of the sermons, but concludes that he finds such cautious phrasing reassuring: ‘Life is complex, and I rather imagine God is, too’.”

There is a certain charm to the Church of England, in my view, so often criticized for fudging controversial issues, and muddling through. Maybe certainty is a sin; perhaps ‘muddling through’ is the noblest path in a world where people’s views and ambitions clash so sharply. Discuss. Anyway, returning to the review, I’m delighted to report that Rachel approves the story-telling as well as the observations on faith:

“Silly mid-offs apart, the strength of the book is in the portrayal of characters and complex relationships at the heart of any community, as well as the goodness that can be witnessed and experienced by living out the Christian faith rather than criticising the new vicar’s sermons. It does not shirk from people’s pasts, either, acknowledging that any relationship later in life brings inevitable baggage, sexual and otherwise. Close of Play is well written, but most of all well observed. There is a clever denouement: the end chapter provides the reader with up-to-date information on the lives of the characters 20 years on.”


1 Comment »

  1. The Church Times review is now available online, for subscribers:

    Comment by felipewh — March 30, 2016 @ 9:05 am | Reply

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