I'm not much for stories of adultery and divorce. It's an offensive topic in the first place, and usually treated sentimentally, which is worse. It's not only that, but the way we acquiesce to the culture's assumptions about the more petty expectations of spouses and how not living up to them is grounds for abandonment. How often justifications are parroted across the social circles of those with marital problems. We reserve unconditional love for children, and not always for them. I must add the usual disclaimers, because there are good reasons for setting limits, even with those we are bound to. Still, love is something other than the light-switch feeling we usually assign to it.
I once taught a night literature course to a class full of divorcees, some wronged in ugly ways, and no author was harder to approach than our almost-contemporary Updike, who, though or because he had been divorced himself, was so straight about the cruelty of our most intimate relationships.
The 2004 award-winning film We Don't Live Here Anymore (on Netflix instant play) is based on short stories by Andre Dubus, a lesser-known Catholic writer, and it's one of the few films that I've watched more than once. Dubus himself had quite a tragic life. His daughter was raped, causing him much anguish. And later, while assisting two motorists, he was himself hit by another car and disabled for life. His third wife left him after his injury. Through tragedy, his faith flourished.
In the film reviews I have written in recent weeks, like this one on The Kids Are All Right or this one on The King’s Speech, I have been inspired by, if not exactly modeling, some of the recent editorials in Traces as well as the flyers that have been written by Chris Basich with the help of others in Communion and Liberation. In New York last weekend, Chris spoke of these flyers and of the reasons behind them, which amount to judging current events from the perspective of what we are learning in School of Community. . . .