“Living Within the Truth”: Vaclav Havel & “The Power of the Powerless”

vaclav havel, president, praha 24.11.2009

Author's note: I originally published this essay in 2012, but brought it back in the face of the recent oppression in the Ukraine by a power-hungry Russian-backed government. The enduring lesson of Vaclav Havel's immortalized essay, "The Power of the Powerless", is that the ineradicable antidote to naked power or power veiled in ideology is, quite simply, to "live within the truth". As Winston Churchill once said, ""The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, b … [Read more...]

Of Egos & Thorns: On the Difference Between Ayn Rand & the Apostle Paul


 I was younger - much younger - at the time. But the list caught my attention. Quite simply, the question posed, "What is the most influential book you have ever read?". The results of this purportedly widely-solicited poll gave a list of ten books. The first book, as expected, was The Bible. But the second I had never heard before. It was strangely named Atlas Shrugged by an equally oddly named Ayn Rand. The list continued with To Kill A Mockingbird, a book by Jane Austen (forgive my me … [Read more...]

St. Thomas More, Richard Rich & Chasing the Surrogates for God


 It's hard to say how many times I've seen it, but this time it struck me. It was a scene from A Man For All Seasons. I watched it, paused, rewound and watched it again. Thomas More had just returned from a long night on a boat. The Lord Chancellor Cardinal Woolsey summoned this Catholic lawyer, scholar and friend of the King late on the day before to inconvenience him and concentrate his mind. The purpose of the call was to enlist, if not pressure, him into supporting King Henry VIII's … [Read more...]

“Dear Ms. O’Connor”: On Writing Letters to Flannery


 "If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation." - Flannery O'Connor, writing to college freshman, Alfred CornAlfred Corn was nineteen at the time. A freshman ostensibly majoring in French literature, Alfred found himself in a spring semester English class at Emory University. Along with his classmates, he was intrigued, if not entranced, with the sharply-spectacled, … [Read more...]

The “Bright Side” of Funerals for the Young


 It was nearly time. Chuck's funeral would start in a few hours and it wouldn't be easy. The circumstances that brought me to this day were described in my previous post (Late Flowers for a Friend - Lamenting Chuck's Death). Now the reality was setting in. The funeral for a forty year-old. With a fiance and two children. With a living father, mother and stepmother. With a younger sister - now become an only child. It was nearly time. But not yet.I took the day off from clinic. … [Read more...]

Late Flowers for a Friend – Lamenting Chuck’s Death


It came to me in a series of texts. Three classic Iphone beeps to be exact. Clearly, someone had a longer message for me, but it would have to wait. At the time, I was roomed with a patient removing sutures from his foot. The sutures were deeply buried and required that I pull them a bit harder to access the loop that needed to be cut. Going deep can be painful. But if you don't go deep, you risk leaving suture behind and forming a nidus for infection. You risk an abscess. We both knew it, the … [Read more...]