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Posts tagged "Fyodor Dostoevsky"

The Idiot Redux

The Idiot Redux

Elif Batuman takes the title of her first novel, The Idiot, from a Dostoevsky classic. Her young protagonist, Selin, mirrors the innocent Prince Myshkin of the Russian novel. Although an allusion to that giant makes Batuman’s literary ambitions clear, for her sharp narrator, the title may be too self-deprecating. Selin’s a Turkish-American student starting at Harvard with dreams of becoming a writer. From the first pages, we are introduced to her primary writing medium for her early college years: email. Batuman said that when she first finished a draft of the novel in 2001, she had no idea that the…

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Another Week Ends: Amy Chua's Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche's Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky's Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham's Eden

Another Week Ends: Amy Chua’s Three Traits for Success, Nietzsche’s Subversion of Atheism, Why Fun Is Fun, The Eighth-Grade Ubermensch, Dostoevsky’s Internet Anxiety and Lena Dunham’s Eden

1. What happens when you combine an unshakeable superiority complex with deep insecurity? Probably a nervous breakdown in mid-life, or Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. But Amy Chua (of “Tiger Mother” fame) asks us to guess again. The real answer is… success.

For those unfamiliar with her work on hyper-controlling parenting (using that adjective as value-neutrally as possible), it’s ruffled our feathers before. And her new book on success – with its threefold foundation of superiority, insecurity, and impulse control – promises to do so again, ht ER:

Some have denounced the book as racist. This loaded term is often bandied about in discussions about culture…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses Fifteen through Twenty Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses Fifteen through Twenty Five

This morning’s Hopelessly comes from the one and only Bryan Jarrell.

Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day. (Joshua 6:15-25, NIV)

Joshua 6 tells the story of the fall of Jericho, one of the most spectacular and disturbing stories in the Old Testament. You know…

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John Gray and the Politics of Grace

John Gray and the Politics of Grace

“To think that human beings are freedom-loving, you have to be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”

So says pessimistic philosopher John Gray, in his wonderful recent book The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. If it’s already beginning to sound a bit glum, well, he can’t really help himself. The first word we need to hear is so often a “no”, a judgment, or a deconstruction.

Have you ever known someone who had a truth sitting right in front of them and couldn’t recognize it? Someone who always exonerates her child – bad grades…

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Dostoevsky Talks Romans 7, Original Caprice, and Performancism

Dostoevsky Talks Romans 7, Original Caprice, and Performancism

From his Notes from Underground, in which the great Russian author’s disturbed protagonist questions ideals of human progress, enlightenment, secular humanism, and other naïvetés of the nineteenth century – but timeless, too:

But these are all golden dreams. Oh, tell me, who first announced, who was the first to proclaim that man does dirty only because he doesn’t know his real interests; and that were he to be enlightened, were his eyes to be opened to his real, normal interests, man would immediately stop doing dirty, would immediately become good and noble, because, being enlightened and understanding his real profit, he would…

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Religious Facts and the Difference Between a Crime and a Sin

Religious Facts and the Difference Between a Crime and a Sin

More thoughts from the late Jaroslav Pelikan, taken from the “Dostoevsky: The Holy and the Good” chapter of Fools for Christ:

The central discovery… for Dostoevsky was his realization that sin was not primarily a moral, but a religious fact. Sin did not consist in the mere violation of a law or transgression of a commandment. It was not only that I had done something evil or neglected to do something good. In fact, it was not primarily something that I did at all, but something that I was. A sense of sin was more than a feeling of guilt, it…

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The Element In Man For Which Moralism Cannot Account

The Element In Man For Which Moralism Cannot Account

Some germane thoughts from the late Jaroslav Pelikan, taken from the “Dostoevsky: The Holy and the Good” chapter of Fools for Christ, ht CB:

Wherever Christianity is viewed as a quiet submission to traditional patterns of conduct and an acceptance of social convention, there will be no appreciation of the atheism of Ivan Karamazov. His atheism begins to mean something when it becomes clear that the Christian gospel is a religious denunciation of religion–religion being understood as man’s attempt to relate himself constructively to the Holy. Traditional moralism and conventional piety have often put the objects of their search alongside God…

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Another Week Ends: Manti Te'o, More Humblebragging, Russian Arrested Development, Pauline Economists, Pentecostal Megan Fox, Don't Label Me and Shaking Caricatures

Another Week Ends: Manti Te’o, More Humblebragging, Russian Arrested Development, Pauline Economists, Pentecostal Megan Fox, Don’t Label Me and Shaking Caricatures

1. Some of the biggest news this week was Notre Dame quarterback Manti Te’o’s girlfriend – the one he had reportedly visited between games, who was sick and eventually died of leukemia – turning out to be a hoax. It was one of the most inspirational and heart-rending stories of the 2012 college football season and then, on Wednesday, in the span of a quick article, Deadspin debunked the myth:

Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, the stories said, played this season under a terrible burden. A Mormon linebacker who led his Catholic school’s football program back to glory, Te’o was whipsawed between personal…

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Marilynne Robinson on the Great Problem of Christianity and the Failure of Russia and Mississippi

Marilynne Robinson on the Great Problem of Christianity and the Failure of Russia and Mississippi

If in good conscience I could reproduce the entirety of Marilynne Robinson’s beautiful recent piece on the Bible for the NY Times Book Review, “The Book of Books,” I would. Instead, a few paragraphs will have to suffice. If you happened to read it when it appeared a few days before Christmas, you’ll know what I’m talking about (am I the only one who prefers her essays to her longer form stuff?!). Miss Gilead brings her incredible gift for language to bear on the literary significance of Scripture, treading gracefully but assuredly into divisive ground, acknowledging cultural sensitivities without muting…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: The Holy Foolishness of Our Idiot Brother

Mockingbird at the Movies: The Holy Foolishness of Our Idiot Brother

Who can deny Paul Rudd? Even The A/V Club’s unfavorable take on the new film Our Idiot Brother, recently out on DVD, is less a knock on the film itself as it is a disappointment that no one really could keep up with Rudd and his charisma:

“Rudd ably carries the film while retaining a light touch, though even with Rudd in the lead, it’s still a featherweight trifle, an afternoon nap of a feel-good comedy… Rudd might just be cinema’s first Manic Pixie Dream Boy: the dynamic is the same—impish life-lover devoid of an inner life or personal needs shakes…

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Bible Bible On The Wall, Who's The Fairest of Them All?

Bible Bible On The Wall, Who’s The Fairest of Them All?

A provocative article appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education recently, “The Bible Is Dead; Long Live The Bible” in which professor Timothy Beal makes a revealing if unorthodox case for the Bible. Essentially, he defends it by not defending it. Or, rather, he claims from the outset that:

The Bible is anything but univocal about anything. It is a cacopho­ny of voices and perspectives, often in conflict with one another. In many ways, those dedicated to removing all potential biblical contradictions, to making the Bible entirely consistent with itself, are no different from irreligious debunkers of the Bible, Christianity, and…

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Another Week Ends: More Pale King, Game of Thrones, Moonwalker, Manny Ramirez, Take The Money and Run

Another Week Ends: More Pale King, Game of Thrones, Moonwalker, Manny Ramirez, Take The Money and Run

Happy Tax Day! We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week on the new site. We certainly have. Be sure to be in touch as you notice things/bugs, either via the form at the bottom of each post or info@mbird.com. Two small updates: 1. The glossary section will be returning soon-ish, but in rewritten form. In the meantime, you can click on the Glossary category in the sidebar to find the old entries. And 2. We’re on Facebook! Like us, love us, share us, just please don’t ever break up with us… On that note:

1. In celebration of it hitting shelves…

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