Friday, January 18, 2008

Pontoon

One of the gifts Anna gave me for Christmas was the book, Pontoon, by Garrison Keillor. Pontoon is the book that contains the full fledged story that we heard (mostly) in concert when Keillor was at Centre College in Danville, KY. I say mostly because during his talk I fell asleep - Anna heard the whole thing. It wasn't that the story was boring, quite the opposite, it was that good.
Because I failed to catch the entire story live, Anna gave me the story in book form.
But the story live and the story in book form have some significant points of departure.
Keillor takes the book to the rated R section in the first few pages, letting us know that he's ready for the next installment of the movie series, Grumpy (Dirty) Old Men. Those tales didn't make it into the live show - at least not at the Presbyterian, Centre College.
The other dark aspect of Keillor's tale is the Agnostic Lutheran bent to the story. Central to the plot is a dead lady and her daughter. The dead lady has left a will in which she reveals that she became an atheist long ago but kept up the pretense of a good Lutheran for the social involvement. The daughter decides to follow in her mother's shadow and declare herself an atheist also. The problem for both, and really for Keillor, is the concept of self-determination.
The Dark Lutheranism, as Keillor titles it in "Wobegon Boy," or Monergism as Roger Olsen calls it in "The Story of Christian Theology," has little room for love, joy, happiness, person-created meaning and goodness. Therefore to escape this dark world, Keillor goes to "atheism." He fails to present a vision of how these qualities are found without God. The curious point is that fact his character seems able to pray after she makes a confession against the Lutheran way.
Keillor is a good story teller - by that I mean he has good form and skill, I just wish he had a good story to tell. I wish he could find the road beyond determinism and know the flame of love.
My advice, skip the book - go see the live show, you'll laugh more, if you don't fall asleep:-)

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