"Twilight of Mercy" and the "Wasteland"

Today we introduce a new columnist to our roster, Matt Emerson — whose work you have read in the past months, considering Jesuit Education, why he left practicing law, behind, the popularity of Lady Gaga in light of Gaudium et Spes and Stephen Colbert in light of catechesis.

His column is called “After Manresa” and I will leave it up to him to tell his readers what that’s about another time. His debut column manages to coin a phrase (“Criteria Catholicism”) and ask a serious question regarding Catholicism’s passionate commitment to life — which is quite right — and the impulse by some to forget the quality of mercy we owe each other amid the battle:

To link so imperiously authentic Catholicism with one’s attitude toward abortion, however, confines the fullness of discipleship. It encourages people to think, “I am against abortion; thus, I am a good Catholic.” The position incites people to exalt viewpoints alone, and to license an illusory holiness without setting one foot forward on behalf of the poor, without visiting the imprisoned, or without feeding the hungry or ministering to the sick; without sustaining a renunciation or commitment reflecting the complete change of heart and the heroic agape love to which Our Lord calls us.

When fencing — really in any battle — one does need to be constantly mindful of one’s position, and correcting one’s own stance, in order to maintain balance. This is an important balancing note, I think; human dignity matters. I would urge everyone to read the whole thing.

While we’re thinking about our fellows, also take a look at Joseph Susanka’s examination of the documentary, “Waste Land”:

If one were to assemble a list of the most egregiously overused phrases in documentary review history, “triumph of the human spirit” would undoubtedly fall near the top—a descriptor used with such frivolous regularity as to render it almost meaningless. So it is with some trepidation that I find myself making the following admission: Waste Land is one of those rare and rewarding cases where it truly applies.

Vik Muniz, a Brazilian-born artist known world-wide for his distinctive way of incorporating everyday objects into his sculptures and photographs, has achieved a level of fame and success far beyond his wildest dreams. Now, chafing at the “exclusivity and restrictive nature” of the art world in which he has made his fortune, he is searching for a way to return (and to give back) to his native land. Guided by the advice of his family and friends, he settles upon the perfect subjects for his new artistic/humanitarian project: the catadores (trash collectors) of Jardim Gramacho.

The personal stories of these people are really incredible; uplifting, inspiring. Joseph never steers us wrong, but this one I need to watch!

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