Wild Windows is a delightful romp through many of the religious and spiritual issues that trouble us today. Tricky classroom questions and the eternal battle between pupil and teacher; deathbed conversions (and how annoying they can be!); pick-and-mixing; the triumph of wishy-washy Anglicanism; the meaning of life (in two parts!); the need for a library of more than one book; the vital question as to whether God can sleep at night; reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ yet again!; following your leader by definitely not following your leader; eavesdropping on young lovers and thereby learning the mysteries of God: all are here.
Richard Dell takes hold of these issues, breathes life into them, invariably cloaks them with a story, and then, like a magician, plucks from the shadows of his stories rays of delicious light. Reading Wild Windows will certainly entertain you. It might at times make you laugh. It might also at times infuriate you. But from time to time, as you stand at a window and stare at the wild sky, you will realise that it has also enlightened you. Truly these are wild and awakening thoughts for wild and awakening spirits: and isn’t that all of us?
There follows a sample from Chapter Twelve:
I am always amused when I happily admit to being a pick-and-mixer, and then get chastised by whoever it is I am talking to; that person, of course, being a committed member of his or her own church.
The dear man I spoke to on the stairs was a devout Roman Catholic. Perhaps the next time I made my happy admission it was an Anglican who chastised me. After that a Presbyterian. After that a Methodist. Then a Baptist. Was it a Greek Orthodox after that? No, I think perhaps it was a Russian Orthodox. Yes, indeed it was, and then after the Russian Orthodox it was a Lutheran, who was followed by an Anabaptist. Then there was a member of the Brethren, then a Pentecostalist, then a Congregationalist, and the Congregationalist was definitely followed by a Calvinist, and the Calvinist was followed by a Quaker and she was followed by a Messianic Jew, and the Messianic Jew was followed by a Muslim, though I do not remember if the Muslim was Shiite, Sunni, Whhabi, Druze, Alawis, Moorish Science, Zikri, Kharijite, Qadiri, Ash’ari or any of the other branches of Islam. I certainly do not remember if that Muslim was a Twelver or a Sevener.
Oh dear, there seems to have been an awful lot of pick-and-mixing going on by an awful lot of people who are vehemently against pick-and-mixing.
It seems like it is time for me to tell you the glorious truth about the Anglican Church, and why the very thing it feels most embarrassed about is actually the very thing that should make it feel most proud. Of course, there are many branches of Anglicanism, but now you have read the above list of different denominations, that fact at least should come as no surprise. Leaving aside the vehemently committed Anglicans from whichever wing of Anglicanism they might belong to, there are also people in a mushy centre to Anglicanism: at least there are in Britain. Those Anglicans in the mushy middle are never quite certain about what it actually is they believe in. And they are all terribly embarrassed by this. It is so sad that they do feel embarrassed, for the great majority of them tend to be terribly nice and caring and terribly understanding of everyone else’s beliefs and convictions. It is also very sad that they are continually attacked for their lack of conviction, but gloriously not sad that they tend not to fight back, because deep down they do understand where their attackers are coming from, and do rather respect their point of view, and do indeed feel that their attackers might have a point.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Time, I think, to...