Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Writing “Walking with Gosse”

Why did I write “Walking with Gosse”? A fair question and one I’ve been asked several times.

One answer comes in the subtitle to the book, viz. “Natural History, Creation and Religious Conflicts”. I think that the natural world is fascinating to all of us, whatever our views on life and we’ve all been transfixed by watching animals like dragonflies or enjoyed the tranquillity and beauty of bluebell woods. These are just two of a myriad of examples.

Henry Gosse was a great Natural Historian and an acute observer who was able to convey what he saw in both spoken and written words. He was also a very able artist and illustrator, his father having been a professional painter. It was not difficult, when reading Gosse’s books, to feel that here was someone to admire and who was a kindred spirit.

Well, that was one part of the man. To Henry, the most significant aspect of his life was his belief in the literal truth of The Bible, coupled with his conviction of the imminence of the Second Coming. It permeated his writing and all that he did in Natural History and the wonder of it all enhanced his belief in God.

Although brought up as a Christian, and recognising the significance of the Christian religion in the development of Western Civilisation, I do not share Henry’s views. I would have been thrilled to be in his company and to learn from his knowledge but also recognise that I would soon have become intolerant of his constant references to God and the need for me to be saved.

So, I wanted to explore Henry and myself and what I could learn from him. There were also other reasons for writing the book – the Creation debate and the effects of religious belief in promoting conflicts - and I’ll cover these in future blogs.

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