1. Over at PatrolMag, David Sessions posted a terrific interview with British literary critic Terry Eagleton concerning, among other things, “Capitalism and the West’s Existential Crisis.” The occasion for the interview is the release of Eagleton’s new book on Marxism. Of course, Eagleton is not your garden variety Marxist (thank God), and regardless of your political convictions, his reflections are a good companion to the “relentlessly depressing debt ceiling news,” as Sessions memorably puts it. For example:
Sessions: While we’re talking about belief, in your Terry Lectures at Yale in 2008, you described Christianity as both more gloomy than any other ideological tradition about the present and also more absurdly hopeful about the future. You say exactly the same thing about Marxism in the book. What’s going on there?
Eagleton: Christianity believes in what it calls “original sin,” which it sees not as pessimistic but as realistic. People who don’t believe in original sin obviously haven’t been reading the newspaper. And obviously [Christianity] also has a great deal of hope. I think there’s a similar current in Marxism. One of the things that always strikes the European outsider about the States is how much of an upbeat society it is. Europe is a very downbeat place; people don’t on the whole have much hope, they’re buried beneath a very long history of disasters of one kind or another. Because it’s a younger country, partly, America is a much more affirmative place—I mean, to the point where any kind of negativity is regarded almost as a thought crime. You have to talk about you “can” do something, and “success” and not being a “loser,” and if you can’t do it’s because you’re not trying hard enough and that kind of nonsense. To an outsider, the United States seems riddled from end to end with an almost manic belief in itself and in the fact it can do almost anything, and I think this is extremely dangerous.
Speaking of Europe being a downbeat place, there’s this.
2. A profoundly stirring meditation by Jeff Dunn of The Internet Monk entitled “Walking The Broken Road,” in which he discusses fatherhood and faith in light of his son’s drug addiction. Another powerful yet sad example of how the 12-Step approach seems to have a better grasp of the work of God (and the Gospel) than the church, ht MB:
Once a month I then go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a different location to hear someone share their story. This is a group of addicts themselves who are working through their addictions. I sit and listen. What I hear are broken people who are not afraid to admit they are broken. There is no pretense in this meeting. If there were, the pretender would be called on it immediately, not out of meanness but out of kindness. Each person introduces himself/herself as an addict. “Hi, I’m Jeff and I’m and addict.” None of this, “I used to be an addict, but God delivered me and now I am no longer.” These broken people stay broken forever. But in their ability to be real with one another they now hold each other up, even carry one another when needed. They clap and hoot and laugh and cry with each other. They hug and help each other.
Along similar but (much) sillier lines, over at The Onion, there’s Area Dog’s Rock Bottom Same As His Peak.
3. Next, the romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love came out last week and it’s already shaping up to be one of the unexpected box office hits of the summer. The reviews have been positive in a rather surprising way. That is, it appears that this may be that increasingly rare rom-com that’s not only aimed at adults but has an adult sensibility, or at the very least, doesn’t embrace Hollywood’s usual nonsense about relationships and self-fulfillment. In The NY Times, A.O. Scott writes that the film’s directors “balance respect for the romantic imperative that is part of the movie’s Hollywood DNA — there is lots of soapy, sincere talk of soul mates and endless love — with a sober acknowledgment of the limits of romanticism.” And then there’s this short review I came across on Preaching Barefoot:
For a while [Crazy Stupid Love] glamorizes the hook-up lifestyle alongside of a broken marriage. For a while it tells us that we are right to have cynicism of marriage and lasting love and that we need to learn how to embrace the sex without commitment way of relating as men and women. But gradually it shows us how this way of life is more like a “creepy game,” that hides what is personal and true in favor of what is formulaic… It even suggests that instead of married people needing the mentoring of the hook-up culture, the hook-up culture could stand some mentoring from those attempting a life of real and lasting committed love with all of its challenges and gifts.
4. The A/V Club has the details on J.K. Rowling’s new project, Pottermore. Underwhelming to say the least – which is not to say the lady isn’t entitled to a little slack and/or the benefit of the doubt.
5. Ten Things Not To Say To A Depressed Person hits the nail on the head! A brilliant list in every regard, full of insights about willpower and suffering and the way exhortations backfire. Of course, some of us would not have known what it was to put our foot in our mouth if it hadn’t been for the blogosphere (Romans 7:7), ht JD.
6. Our very own Paul Zahl weighs in at Christianity Today on the topic of Drone Warfare.
7. Poor Heidi Montag! The Daily Beast caught up with the artists formerly known as “Speidi” recently, who appear to be a pretty repentant, disillusioned pair these days. Heidi referenced her absurd plastic surgery attention grab last year, ht NL:
“Obviously I wish I didn’t get it,” Heidi said. “I would go back and not have any surgery. It doesn’t help. I got too caught up in Hollywood, being so into myself and my image. I don’t regret anything, but if I could go back, I wouldn’t do it.”
She went on. “I made a lot of wrong decisions too quickly. So many wrong rights and lefts and then you’re just off the road. Things happened so quickly.”
8. Finally, in music, U2 announced the details of Achtung Baby reissue, coming at the end of October, and man, they’re not holding back! It’s even better than, you know…