Ethan Richardson is a contributing staff member for Mockingbird. Born and raised in Lexington, KY, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009, majoring in Religious Studies and English. In June of 2011, he finished two years of teaching 5th grade in the inner city of New Orleans, and now lives in Charlottesville, VA and works for Mockingbird along with serving at Christ Episcopal Church.
A new find for me, but this will not be the last Michel Quoist post. Quoist was a French priest and activist who wrote prayer books in much the same way the psalmists did. That is to say, his prayers are short vignettes and poems about everyday life. They also are not complete prayers–they do not try to “see the whole picture”–which seems to me to be an authentic prayer. One thing seems clear in Quoist’s work: for him there is little distinction between church life and human life, religious and secular. God in Christ moves through suffering and love, and so Christ is everywhere. This one comes from a new collection, Keeping Hope: Favourite Prayers for Modern Living.
I was called recently to the bedside of a dying man. He was very old and his face was ravaged and distorted by illness and suffering. I watched his wife. She was leaning over him, caressing him and whispering to him such tender words: ‘How beautiful you are, my love, how fine you look!’ I was embarrassed and thought: ‘How can anyone be so blind? Love is blind!’
Then an extraordinary thing happened. As she caressed him, the old man half-opened his eyes and a hesitant smile appeared on his face. He look at his wife a long time and she looked at him. There was a mysterious communion between them. And his smile spread. It was like the sun after a storm. I saw it. I know that I saw what she saw! She was right–the old man, made ugly by suffering, was beautiful. Love is not blind–love lets us see what others do not see.
That woman was guided by love to go beyond the deep wrinkles of her husband’s suffering face and had joined someone who was beyond, far beyond, the body, someone who could not die even if his body were to crumble away in her sight and finally disappear.
Another Week Ends: Trigger Warnings, Performance Bias, More Tinder, More True Detective, Plus Donald Trump, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gandhi and Tolstoy
1. The Atlantic’s cover story this month comes from social science favorite Jonathan Haidt. His topic is the apprehension-du-jour, the ever-growing problem of P.C., especially in the realm of college classrooms and student learning. Haidt, a professor himself at NYU, sees the trend of “trigger warnings” and “vindictive protectiveness,” different from the political correctness interest of the 80s and 90s, mainly because this wave stems from emotional reasoning more than it does from objective reasoning. And he sees this as a danger to the learning of students, precisely because it prioritizes evasion of conflict rather than the confrontation of it.
From Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology, one of the original voices in clinical pastoral counseling, this passage talks about the purpose (and pitfalls) of prayer for the Christian wound up in his/her own neuroses.
One of the reasons why pastoral dialogue with men and women suffering from the common symptoms of psychoneurosis is necessary, is in order that prayer, which is their life-giving communication with God, may be re-established. When Christian people fall into despair, into bitter isolation, into depression, into separation-anxiety, or into dread of non-being, they have, to this extent, lost any clear sense of God as loving or personal, fatherly…
In our upcoming sixth installment of The Mockingbird, the Technology Issue, we had the opportunity to interview the sensei on the subject, Nicholas Carr. Carr was a Pulitzer finalist for his 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, and his recent book, The Glass Cage, deals with the growing presence of automation in our lives. Part of the book deals with Google Maps, and the difference between what he calls “wayfaring” versus “transport.”
Wayfaring is messier and less efficient than transport, which is why it has become a target for automation. “If you have a mobile phone…
NEW YORK—After his laptop suddenly stopped working earlier this week, chronically anxious man Henry Geller, 36, confirmed to reporters how nice it was to have an actual problem to worry about for a change. “I’ve got to say, it’s pretty refreshing to obsessively agonize over a real, concrete issue instead of some artificial mental construction,” said Geller, pointing out how much of a pleasure it has been to explain his problem to other people and, in response, hear them agree that he’s facing a difficult predicament rather than offering repeated assurances that the concern is solely in his head. “This…
1) A provocative new study from The National Post sheds some new light on contemporary understandings of bullying in schools and beyond. The focus of the conversation stems from the (argued) misconception that bullies are socially maladapted, due to some underlying issues at home. The role of schools, then, is to combat these tendencies with positive and negative reinforcements upon their behavior—carrots and sticks.
The new study in Canada finds, to the contrary, that bullies are better adapted to their environment—more socially adept than their peers, less likely to be depressed, and more likely to have higher social status and self-esteem…
1) A trio of articles surfaced recently about the psychological relationships between work ethic and mental health. It appears that anxiety is on the rise, especially for achievers. The first one of note, from The Atlantic, introduces the phenomenon of “John Henryism,” claiming that there is a paradoxical health risk to those who happen to work really hard to find success. A study was done with a group of underprivileged kids from low-income neighborhoods, who exhibited strong academic performance and self-control. While this self-control and determination led them to more opportunities beyond their circumstances, their health suffered because of it.
Well, Modern Love’s Daniel Jones is certainly not on vacation. This past Friday’s installment of our favorite relationships column was a heat-seeking missile into the dark depths of marital skepticism. Surprisingly, though, the article does not object to marital skepticism–it normalizes it. Ada Calhoun writes about her own 10+ years of marriage and the difficulties that quickly skimmed off the fluff of most wedding toasts you hear–“I will never let you down,” “You will always be my best friend,” etc. Strangely enough, Calhoun indicates the inherent optimism of these kinds of toasts as part of the problem. We feel entitled to their sentiments, so much so…
For this fifth issue of the magazine, we had the privilege of talking to author and journalist Philip Yancey about the message of grace in today’s churches. We also got a chance to re-print a small sample of his most recent book Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?.
To order a copy of The Forgiveness Issue, look no further than here. There’s more where this comes from.
In May of 2015, the Pew Research Center released its latest findings on the “changing religious landscape” of the United States. According to the survey, 70% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014,…
A buzzword like “character” could mean just about anything you want it to mean. Like a lot of reclaimed, lofty words from Ancient Greece or Rome — virtue, beauty, culture — character has picked up a lot of fuzz along the way, enough to become a proverbial lightning rod for just about any self-help guru and pop academic and thought-leader under the sun. Which is why David Brooks’ newest title, The Road to Character, did not exactly grab me like the earlier Bobos in Paradise. It sounded too much like the kind of book a dad pushes on an eighteen-year-old graduate. Or an HR executive plants in her office giftbags.
But Brooks is…
We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—
that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.
Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
not as if I should consider myself
personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,
—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,