On the topic of big heads

I got married yesterday. It was fantastic. Moved me beyond words. There were some minor glitches but not enough to spoil the day.

On the topic of glitches my groomsmen decided to turn their speeches into a Spike TV Roast. My large head got some good mileage from all but one of my groomsmen.

So my wife took her pez dispenser for a husband out to Chapter’s and I picked up a book by an author recommended by Eugene Peterson, Rex Stout. Here’s a description of the main character, Nero Wolfe, on page 2 of Fer-De-Lance:

Wolfe lifted his head. I mention that, because his head was so big that lifting it struck you as being quite a job. It was probably really bigger than it looked, for the rest of him was so huge that any head on top of it but his own would have escaped your notice entirely.

So, looks like I’ve got some growing into my head to do. Two dinners tonight dear.

Why pick Rex Stout the mystery writer for some summer reading? Peterson gives these reasons in his Take up and read: Spiritual reading: An annotated list:

Nero Wolfe, the fat detective featured in the numerous Rex Stout murder mysteries, is not a clergyman, but for thirty years I have amused myself and some of my friends by reading him as a parable of the Christian contemplative presence in the world. The popular imagination, dulled by contemporaneity, sees nothing in the Nero Wolfe stories but detection. But Stout has written a body of work every bit as theologically perspicuous as Swift with the result that he hits the best-seller lists as a clever and resourceful detective novelist. To his financial benefit, of course, but still, for a serious writer to be misunderstood so completely must be humiliating no matter what the bank balance. But once the theological intent is suggested, the barrest sleuthing quickly discerns Nero Wolfe as a type of the church’s presence in the world. The most evident thing about him, his body, provides an analogue to the Church. His vast bulk is evidence of his “weight,” recalling the etymology of the biblical “glory.” More than anything else he is there, visibly. He must be reckoned with. He is corpulent or nothing. And the Church is the body of Christ. Along with an insistence on bodily presence there is a corresponding obervation that there is nothing attractive about that body. His body is subject to calumny and jokes. His genius is in his mind and his style. He does not fawn before customers , nor seek “contacts” (a word, incidentally that he would never use. He once was found ripping apart a dictionary, page by page, and burning it because it legitimized “contact” as a transitive verb). Wolfe will not leave his house on business, that is, accommodate himself to the world’s needs. He is a center around which the action revolves, a center of will and meditation, not a center of power or activity. He provides a paradigm for Christian spirituality that, while reticent and reserved, is there in vast presence when needed. He has no need for advertising techniques or public relations programs. He is there and needed because there is something wrong in the world (murder and other criminal extremes). He models a contemplative life which is not here to be loved, not designed to inspire affection. It is massive, central, important – a genius, in fact. But you don’t have to like it. In all this there is an implied criticism of a Church that has succumbed to public relations agents who have mounted Christian pulpits to make the church attractive – to personalize her, to sentimentalize her. Wolfe, as Christian ministry, levels a rebuke against that kind of thing. It follows that there is a disdain for defensive explanations – a Barthian avoidance of “apologetics” to a world that seeks assurance of its reliability and effectiveness. To that kind of inquiry he says: “I can give you my word, but I know what it’s worth and you don’t.” The spiritual life is cheapened when it tries to make itself acceptable in terms the world can understand.