Compassion in the Face of Force

Simone_Weil_1921

 For Simone Weil, justice is primarily an act of paying attention, which protects the sacred cry in every human being not to be hurt. "It would seem that man is born a slave and that servitude is his natural condition." So concludes Simone Weil’s Analysis of Oppression. The essay is a study of political history,  but throughout her short life, Weil also encountered human slavery far more immediately. Born in Paris in 1909 to an agnostic French-Jewish middle-class family, she was, i … [Read more...]

Two Sides of Paradise

terrence-malick

If one were to construct a spectrum of contemporary filmmakers, ranging from the minimalist to the fantastic, one would find Baz Luhrmann and Terrence Malick on very opposite ends of the spectrum. Where the former is loud, explosive, and flashy, the other is introspective, discreet, and nuanced to a fault. And yet, the two movies they had in theaters this summer (The Great Gatsby and To the Wonder, respectively) revolve around the same dynamic tension. In some prior reverie, a man and a woman f … [Read more...]

What Does It Mean to Be Successful?

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A recent article by Genevieve Smith, published in April by Elle magazine, raises the question of what it means to young people to truly be successful. Smith describes her youthful pursuit of a “creative” job at a magazine for which she earned less money than she could have at the financial magazine where she first worked. She agrees, at the beginning, with a friend who told her: “I cared about career success. I didn’t care about security.”But, says Smith, she and her husband eventually conclu … [Read more...]

What We Can Learn from Young Atheists

Ephesians

Recently The Atlantic posted an article entitled, “Listening to Young Atheists, Lessons for a Stronger Christianity.” In it, Larry Alex Tauron, the article’s author, reports the results of a survey he conducted to figure how, why, and when young atheists decided to become atheists (“Tell us your journey to unbelief.”). Taunton states that he expected to find Hitchens, Dawkins, and the other New Atheists at the forefront of these young people’s minds—but instead, they rarely mentioned any specific … [Read more...]

The Economic and Political Roots of Our Friendship Crisis

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Yesterday Jordan Monge asked the question “why don’t we talk about friendship more?” The post was prompted by a talk she heard given by Wes Hill on the topic of spiritual friendships. (For what it’s worth, you really should start reading Wes’s blog on a regular basis.) This is an issue I’ve thought about a good bit because of the role friendship has played in my own life.I'll get to some causes of our neglect of friendship below, but first I want to give some personal background that informs my p … [Read more...]

Why Don’t We Talk About Friendship More?

Sergebac7thcentury

This weekend, I was blessed to have the opportunity to hear Wesley Hill, the author of Washed and Waiting, speak at Harvard on spiritual friendship and sexuality. One of the challenges he posed sprung from his reading of St. Aelred of Rievaulx's reflection Spiritual Friendship. He noted, "there aren't a lot of similar treatises [on friendship] that we could point to in today's church. Why is that? Could we be part of rewriting them ourselves? Could we be part of living into them ourselves and rec … [Read more...]

Minimalism is Good, but Grace Isn’t Cheap

small spaces

 Minimalism is on the rise— but unless we build our relationships as much as we pare down out possessions, it will fail.Last week, two opinion pieces in the New York Times discussed materialism and the good life in American culture. In his article, “Living with Less. A lot Less,” Graham Hill explains how he overcame anxiety and found happiness by minimizing clutter in his life and concentrating on meaningful intangibles. Jessica Soffer's article, “Staying Sane in Small Spaces,” wasn' … [Read more...]


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