Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tim Parks on a British Middle Class Evangelical Anglican upbringing and the body

Author Tim Parks is interesting on the legacy of his middle class British Evangelical Anglican upbringing. (His father was a clergyman, although Parks jnr. does not now share Parks snr.'s faith)

The overwhealming characteristic, he says, was purposefulness. There was certainty and activity. One should save one's own soul and the souls of others, work hard at school, go to University, get a good job, have children who would share the same purpose. One might play soldiers, who would fight and win in a good cause. Even singing was purposeful, in praise of God.

And there was a rejection of the body, which was a necessary but dispensible carrier for the soul and the middle class self. The body was a hassle which would be put off for heaven - and good riddance.

 The purposefulness means that Parks was on his 21st book at the time of writing. The heady mix of piety and ambition has taken hold.

 Parks sees something of his preacher father in himself as a writer. Both gave their lives to the primacy of the word, falling under its spell, and in their own way sought to persuade, even if their messages were somewhat different.

Teach Us To Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Happiness (London, Vintage, 2011) p2-3

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