Happy to meet you all!
I recently finished & enjoyed St Therese's autobiography & Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace. Though Simone Weil remained an outsider to the church, there are many parallels between their writings, such as the abyss of love, abandonment to God, self-diminishment so that God may become all.
Any other admirers of Simone Weil here? Or, in this vein of mystical autobiographical writings of principles put into practice, what other works have you all enjoyed?
@Matt I’ve never heard of Simone Weil. But I certainly liked Therese’s autobiography. My wife really liked the writings by her sister about Therese as well.
@TerrorOfDemons Thanks for the recommendation Darren! A search yielded several results, the siblings being a matter of public interest. I gave the top few a skim, mostly fragments and letters. Some charming anecdotes. The overall effect is to make one reflect upon similar lives that pass unnoticed, no? Leonie Martin, I learned, had a unexceptional life of hardship and devotion. And I'm sure many had been similarly influenced and ordered their lives.
@Matt I don’t think this is as spiritually impressive, but I’ve enjoyed Chesterton and Merton and, in terms of recent writers, Rod Dreher.
Loved Merton's Seven Storey Mountain; read The Way on his recommendation. If you're interested by Merton's reflections on Taoism, I started but have yet to finish the works of Zhuangzi. Simone Weil promoted the Upanishads. There is certainly a universal wisdom to life.
Chesterton is a favorite of my priest. Hard to know where to start with his many shorter works. Do you have a favorite piece?
@Matt orthodoxy, everlasting man, heretics, what’s wrong with the world.
Also Anthony Ensolan is good, and John senior. “The awakening of miss prim” is a nice work of fiction by a great female author on these themes.
Rod Dreher—hadn’t heard of him! Helen Andrews & Sohrab Ahmari are similar; they interview together & write blurbs for each other’s book jackets. However, I thought both Andrews & Ahmari interview better than they write. Among this group, communism is a constant touchstone. I’ll leave with one of Dreher’s favorite authors, “It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another.” –MacIntyre, After Virtue
Dreher’s interpretation of progressivism as having an essentially religious character is now a widespread argument—Ahmari and Andrews make the same. As a theory of secularization, it is a reversal of the pantheism of Victorian aestheticism and secularization, which was brought low by its own theodicy, blithe in the face of the world’s evils (Sara Lyons wrote a nice book on this). The point of controversy in this arena is the potency of woke principles and thus the extremity of response warranted. I argue wide-spread adoption of the principles is in fact evidence of their impotence to disrupt the current power structure. It’s a superficial theory comprised of litmus tests. In my own experience, I say the words and advance. The argot can be mastered in an afternoon. And I do appreciate the attention paid to the impressions we make upon others, for which we are all responsible and must attend. Perhaps I am too ambitious. Are you preferring to order your life as one of Dreher's islands as a defense against MacIntyre's 'dark age'?
In conclusion, I prefer the original spirit of Vatican II as presented by von Balthasar, Speyr, and Ratzinger over the prospect of Dreher’s Benedictine islands. I remain ever-hopeful for unity through openness and engagement. Dreher’s argument certainly has its proponents, clearly many contemporary writers are in Dreher’s camp. And their number does cause me to reflect further upon my own position. So, thanks for this recommendation!
@Matt Where do you live and what do you do? Don’t want to put myself but I’ve spent a fair amount of my life among the woke elite in the major power centers of the Northeast. The ideology is deeply embedded and fundamentally intolerant and the disdain for traditional Christianity palpable.
I generally agree with Amari that the time for openness is over and we essentially need to prepare to withstand a long siege. And fight. These people want to destroy — the Christian faith, the Church, even just happy normal families. Bowing your head and learning the cant to stay under the radar from the Eye of Sauron is all well and good in the short run as a strategy for an individual but fundamentally intolerable for a free people in the long run. Sorry if that seems extreme, but it’s how I feel.
These people marched through the institutions and strangled classical liberalism the moment they had the upper hand. I don’t see a way back to happy coexistence after this, just a long, slow perpetual culture war.
@Matt I should add that when I refer to “these people” I am mostly referring to woke activist types, who are less than 10% of the US population, and probably no more than 1-2% of the global population, but disproportionately powerful in proportion to their numbers.
@Columbkille Thank you for your thoughtful response! I certainly recognize my own experience is just an anecdote, and I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Sorry to hear things are so trying where you are. I agree that this will play out slowly. With sincerity, I will reflect upon your position. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not in a position to be influential on the matter.
I’m a medical student at an elite school that is not in the northeast. The pressure is not as great as I understand it is in the humanities. It is enough for a doctor to avoid offense rather than proclaim from the mountaintops. There is great pressure to view medicine as a political force, and there are teachings in the curriculum on social justice organized longitudinally. However, the implementations have agreed with the best interests of the patient, in my experience. Why can’t the patient afford medication, or why might a patient refuse a treatment or be distrustful are practical questions (though I do think they were addressed prior to this curriculum). And I think knowing the zeitgeist will be important in my professional future, recruiting and maintaining staff, managing conflicts, etc. It has more of an impact, though still not much, on workplace dynamics with co-workers than interactions with patients. To a great degree, I feel bound by my professional ethos to do whatever patient care demands.
@Matt Thanks for your thoughtful response.
I know there are legal efforts to do things like require doctors to provide “gender affirming” care, to require doctors to refer to abortion clinics or lose their license, to ration treatment by discriminating against politically unfavored races (some Boston hospitals recently tried this). Many of these efforts are legally dubious but since there are also activist judges many things that would seem to facially be legally dubious get upheld.
@Matt All of these types of efforts are potential threats to your license if they are passed and you do not comply. But what is just as insidious, if you try to oppose these sort of movements publicly but rationally and respectfully, you will be bullied, harassed, character assassinated, maybe even fired. Then the activists use the silence of the medical (or legal, or psychological, or whatever) community as part of their justification.
I get frustrated with feedback among “moderates” that amounts to “well it’s not so bad if you just keep your head down and eyes to the floor and prophylactically mumble constant apologies.” That’s just a terrible way to live. As Christians we shouldn’t be picking fights but it’s a disgrace to be cowering in fear too.
The irony of all this is I literally lived in the unofficial “gay house” in college one year. But it was essentially a libertarian line as little as 20 years ago. The turn to totalitarianism has been rather rapid.
RCsocial.net — a friendly social networking space for those with an interest in Catholicism.