Thursday, June 3, 2010

Boring Interior Castle @christianaudio @caReviewers

My latest review for christianaudio reviewer's program is Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle (which was made possible with a complimentary copy from christianaudio). As many people know, my undergraduate studies focused on religion, particularly hagiographies and texts like St. Teresa's. So I was quite excited to have the opportunity to read (er, listen) to this book. I was familiar with St. Teresa before, but I had not read this book yet.

Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. It was honestly just boring, and I think this was because it was completely devoid of passion and seemingly too controlled. When discussing spiritual formation and connecting with God, a lack of passion is the least useful thing. The presentation of Teresa is that she was abundantly controlled in everything she did, thought, or felt. This is stark contrast to Bernini's sculpture of her in ecstasy.

In the book, St. Teresa did mention the importance of control of emotions and passion. Yet one needs a passion for God to truly connect. This was one of my biggest criticisms of hagiographical texts--they were more focused on control than releasing oneself to God (not that these are always mutually exclusive). I still do not recall St. Teresa mostly focusing on control; I have thought of her being more passionate than many of the saints.

So the text really may have been focused on self-control and was an accurate portrayal of Teresa's intentions. However, the passion also could have been lost in translation. This is an older English translation of Spanish and then read aloud. There's a lot of potential for misinterpretation there. I have to give some credit, though, too, that there may have been passion that I just couldn't hear. Shakespeare sounds very dispassionate and over-controlled, yet his work is anything but that. You just have to be able to listen to it appropriately (which I cannot do :) ). I would like to hear a modern translation and see if that changes anything.

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