27 January 2021
In our continuing series during lockdown, when it can seem like we are each marooned on our ‘lockdown desert island’, we’re taking inspiration from the BBC’s long running radio series Desert Island Discs asking a member of staff to share what book he or she would take to their desert island and why.
This week’s book has been chosen by Head of Year 10 and Teacher of Theology Mr Chris Kellaway – who has also selected a few “extras”.
“For many parents of small children the idea of being marooned on a warm desert island right now might sound quite tempting! Having a long time to read sounds glorious…but, as a ginger-haired man who gets sunburnt when he looks outside, I am not ideally suited to this environment. I do hope there would be plenty of shade on this island?
As a boy I really enjoyed reading last week’s choice from Tom Rattle of Dumas’ Three Musketeers, a classic. For me, however, it was the wrong Dumas novel. The Count of Monte Cristo was my favourite book as a teenager. This story is perfectly suited to being on a desert island and if you don’t know why, you should read it to find out! My desert island choice for a novel, however, is Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I read it before studying theology at university and, as a theologian, I was obsessed with the conscience of Raskolnikov. It’s an incredible novel and you almost need to be on a desert island to struggle through the intensity of his feelings (and all the Russian names!). Anyone who has read it has a real sense of pride in having made it through; and no one who has made it through ever regrets it. This would be my choice if I had to pick a novel.
My love of theology has always shaped my love of everything else – for example my favourite Shakespeare play is Othello because of Iago’s malevolence. On this desert island I feel I am well set for great stories with the Bible accompanying The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (as given to everyone on the BBC radio version). Therefore, I’d like to complement these with The Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee. This was given to me when I was aged 14 by my mum after I did well in a religious studies exam. I dipped into it for fun, for GCSE religious studies, for A Level theology, for my degree, and I still dip into it today as a teacher of theology and philosophy. I like the idea of being able to dip into these brilliant ideas and sit (in the shade) marooned on a desert island, to ponder and wonder about why I am really here? As Plato says: ‘Philosophy begins in wonder’. I also have theology covered in my books – ethics (through Shakespeare) and biblical exegesis and philosophy. What more could anybody want? This is what makes theology such a special subject.”