Archive, Conversation with

Conversation with Stig Fossum

A conversations about vocabulary; about faith and doubt; about Norway’s national jubilee and the legacy of St Olav; about books and soul-health.

You seem to suggest that our time has lost key words required to articulate the depth of our existence?  It worries me that modern European usage pretty universally displays an impoverishment of vocabulary, that public discourse becomes more and more banal, having easy recourse to commonplaces. We lose the ability to establish nuances. That is a civilisational loss. It also represents political risk. The less able I am to draw careful distinctions between different terms, the more susceptible I am to simplifying generalisations, prejudices, and sheer silliness.

What is your view of the Bible? It is a hard question to answer, for my relationship with the Bible is not primarily a view. The Bible is the atmosphere within which I live, the air I breathe, the source of my prayer. I often think of something Martin Buber liked to say: To understand the Bible and read it responsibly we need to develop a Biblical consciousness. The Bible must penetrate under our skin. We must know its content, its words and imagery so well that we can recognise and enjoy the ceaseless, mutually enriching internal cross-references that make of the Bible an immense commentary on itself. In this way we shall pass from having a view of the Bible that is analytical and abstract to entertaining a symphonic experience of Scripture.

You can find the conversation (conducted in Norwegian) here (Apple Podcast) or here (Spotify).

Detail from Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin’s ‘Le Philosophe lisant’, now in the Louvre.