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.
From Prayers of Life. This section sounds like a modern mixture of Jesus calming the storm (Mt 8) and the psalmist’s cry in the night (Ps 6). Quoist then gives us God’s response.
I’m at the end of my rope, Lord.
I am shattered.
I am broken.
Since this morning I have been struggling to escape temptation, which, now wary, now persuasive, now tender, now sensuous, dances before me like a seductive girl at a fair.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know where to go.
It spies on me, follows me, engulfs me.
When I leave a room I find it seated and waiting for…
This week, Sherry Turkle picked up where she left off in her NYT article a few years ago, “The Flight from Conversation.” This time, Turkle, who has a new book out, is talking about the lack of conversation skills in today’s young people, but more importantly, how their lack of face-to-face interaction has deeper consequences for learning the lessons of empathy.
It’s almost yawn-worthy to hear yet one more scare-piece about the waning of human attention, or the prospect of a monstrous grown-up millennial generation, but it continues to be on our radars. As we discuss in the upcoming Technology Issue, we simply do not have the…
Another Week Ends: St. Paul’s Gift, Princeton’s Fifth Quintile, Biden’s Kierkegaard, Russia’s Soul, Pixar’s SadLab, and the Peak of Television
1) After the seriously powerful interview Colbert conducted with Vice President Joe Biden, Quartz did a closer look on the guiding philosophy that helped Biden endure the loss of his son Beau. If you’ve not watched the interview, well, go ahead and do that, but Biden describes a note that his wife left him on his mirror, which read, “Faith sees best in the dark,” which comes from Kierkegaard.
Apparently, says Joel Rasmussen of Kierkegaard’s phrase, this is the paradoxical power of Christianity in the human occasion of suffering.
“One sees a kind of goodness coming out of this darkness but, as…
From the 1990 selection of Sabbath poems.
The body in the invisible
Familiar room accepts the gift
Of sleep, and for a while is still;
Instead of will, it lives by drift
In the great night that gathers up
The earth and sky. Slackened, unbent,
Unwanting, without fear or hope,
The body rests beyond intent.
Sleep is the prayer the body prays,
Breathing in unthought faith the Breath
That through our worry-wearied days
Preserves our rest, and is our truth.
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…