Julie Robinson described the morning sessions of the Beverly Hills Literary Escape as conversations among a revolving group of authors that the audience could listen to and participate in. I couldn’t quite get it, would they veer off onto pitches for their books, would it be inside publishing jokes, would I feel bad if someone wasn’t assertive enough to join the fray? It was none of that, in fact, as difficult as they are to describe, the Cafe Conversations were a highlight of the weekend.
Sunday morning’s conversation circled around the subject of faith, spirituality and religion. Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion, Eric Lax, writer of Faith Interrupted, and Michael Krasny, radio interviewer and author of Spiritual Envy mesmerized us with their discussion of belief, unbelief and serious pondering over the meaning of life. [Loved their conversation, I bought all of their books also.] About half way through, Robert Goolrick, author of The Reliable Wife, joined the stage. I recalled picking up his book last summer, reading the back and putting it back down. It wasn’t for me. I could see how many would, and do like it, I could envision reading it by the pool or on the beach, but I wasn’t going to either of those places, so I passed. Now I own it.
Before Goolrick joined the group, the conversation was a variation of “I don’t know what I believe about God” or “I knew and now I don’t know” or “I know a little.” Goolrick told everyone what he does know and that is that the practice of religion, he couldn’t care less which religion, gives a person an internal life. He described living in NYC years ago, where he felt he lived life very publicly, that everyone did. Sunday mornings he went to the most upscale Episcopalian church to give himself an hour to consider how close he was to being a good and moral person. It gave him the space to contemplate his life and actions. He couldn’t care less how people spend their Sunday mornings, he cares who people are and the practice of religion shapes who people are.
In Goolick’s opinion, goodness is the only thing that matters. Goodness is the only thing that survives when we die. He defines good by action. What acts of goodness Read the rest of this entry »