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John from the pageless book has started this idea, which I thought would be fun. He has invited me to name ten people as the patron saint of something. Here are my ten.
1. PG Wodehouse. The patron saint of humour. He is the writer who invented Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. He published over 90 titles in his life. All of them are very good. A few of them are in a class of their own. “Goodbye to all Cats” is in my opinion the funniest short story in existence and a few of the Bertie and Jeeves novels manage to be laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. (The Jeeves and Wooster TV adaptations with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are superb. Well worth the purchase price.) PS. it’s pronounced “woodhouse” for some reason.
2. Albert from The Urban Monk. (Note he isn’t a monk – as he reveals on his ‘about me’ page). Patron saint of practical spirituality. Albert comes from a non-dogmatic Buddhist slant which he mixes with studies in psychology and self-development. He writes well and always has something to say.
3. Robert from Reason-4-Smile. Patron saint of self-development. For his approach of welcoming our limitations – not ‘disciplining’ (ie. punishing ourselves) because of them. A much more saintly attitude (love) than the usual self-development hype, which seems to come down to hostility to ourselves.
4. Jacques Ellul. Patron saint of intellectuals. His The Technological Society is still the best diagnosis of our current society (and it was written more than fifty years ago). Practically engaged in movements for social change Ellul is a superb writer (even in translation – he wrote in French). He engaged passionately with the social movements of his time and had an ability to penetrate with laser like focus. His Ethics of Freedom (from within the christian tradition) is one of the few books I know that genuinely understands freedom.
5. Paul Wildman. Patron saint of thinkers. Paul is a friend of mine. He has one of the busiest brains I have ever come across. His ability to understand an area of endeavour, penetrate its main ideas and then push the envelope is remarkable. Paul is a futurist who engages passionately with the direction of our society.
6. Mal Garvin. Patron saint of maturity. Mal was a friend of mine – we haven’t been in touch for years. He founded a christian youth and community movement in Australia called Fusion. Mal’s life hangs together. He has achieved much and this has been done in accord with his spirituality and value base. He has one of the largest radio audiences in Australia and has mastered a range of counseling and communication modes. But for me it is his maturity that is really admirable.
7. Talking Heads. Patron saints of pop music. Any group that can make epistemology dance-able (as they did in Cross-Eyed and Painless) deserve beatification.
8. JS Bach. Patron saint of music. The extraordinary output is amazing. That so much of it is of such fantastic quality is stunning. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written so far as I’m concerned. I’m getting goose bumps now just from remembering it. For me Bach is in a class of his own (I think he puts Mozart in the shade – though I guess I’ll get some hostile comments for saying so.)
9. Bob Brown. Patron saint of politicians. Bob Brown leads the Greens in the Australian Parliament. Bob gets sainthood because he shows that substance can triumph over style. He comes from a small party which doesn’t accept large corporate donations – so no major advertising budget. Any attention they get is for policy. And Bob is a decidedly ordinary speaker. At best he is direct and to the point. Don’t expect any high flown rhetoric. And yet he is a remarkably astute politician. The Greens have slowly built a support base over two decades so that they are close to being the third force in Australian politics. And Bob has kept his reputation for integrity. This is a remarkable achievement.
10. The kindly. Sainthood for those who are not well known but who are kind and helpful to others. Those who nurture their friends and family. Who will never be famous but who have learnt the wisdom of Aldous Huxley; “to be a little kinder to each other”.