New Here?
     
Posts tagged "John Gray"

Another Week Ends: More Underachieving Males, Baffling Temptations, Upper East Side Claustrophobia, John Gray, Star Wars, and Vocation

Another Week Ends: More Underachieving Males, Baffling Temptations, Upper East Side Claustrophobia, John Gray, Star Wars, and Vocation

1. After Dave’s post on male problems this week, The Economist published a long-form essay about the plight of blue-collar men in the West. The pay for men with only a high-school diploma fell by 21% (real terms) between 1979 and 2013, as one of the clear male advantages is brawn, which is less relevant than ever when it comes to earnings. Moreover, these men may not have studied feminism in college, but they’ve found themselves in a world increasingly affected by it:

Their ideas of the world and their place in it are shaped by old assumptions about the special role and status due…

Read More > > >

Chants of Paradise: Progress, Christianity, and The Soul of the Marionette

Chants of Paradise: Progress, Christianity, and The Soul of the Marionette

In the can’t-make-this-up department, someone commented on The Guardian’s review of John Gray’s The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom:

While science is the only game in town in deepening our understanding reality, obviously, philosophers and experts in history are also pretty handy to have around.

Here is a distorted picture of British philosopher/public intellectual John Gray’s ideal of the graceful (because un-self-conscious) marionette: someone likely careening this way and that through life, with no semblance of where he’s going or what it all means. This blindness is typical of triumphalism, and we live in triumphalistic times, times…

Read More > > >

The Smartest Evisceration of Richard Dawkins You'll Read (Today)

The Smartest Evisceration of Richard Dawkins You’ll Read (Today)

What happens when your favorite atheist takes on your least favorite? I found out on Sunday, when The New Republic published John Gray’s scathing review of the first volume (!) of Richard Dawkins’ autobiography, An Appetite For Wonder. The pummeling Gray gives is so complete that the Samaritan in me is (almost) ready to stick up for poor Richard. That is, if my appetite for self-justification wasn’t so busy gorging itself on all the zingers. Suffice it to say, anyone who’s been picking up the sense over the past few months that the ‘atheist establishment’ considers Dawkins to be an…

Read More > > >

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

1. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming the end (telos, purpose) of biology is medicine. Science has long been a technical discipline designed primarily to promote human flourishing / well-being. Of course, it was always contemplative to a degree, satisfying curiosity or even, as Aquinas also notes, teaching us about God. The study of creation reflects upon the Creator. One wonders what the role of science is today, what a panel of researchers would say if asked. My best guess would be something along the lines of increasing knowledge for knowledge’s sake; if pressed further, one might say that pure knowledge works to bolster happiness and/or…

Read More > > >

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

Another Week Ends: Successful Blueprints, Redemptive Politicians, Don Draper's Truth, Marital Advice, Humanist Blasphemy, Mavis Staples, Bono, and Dropping Keys

Another Week Ends: Successful Blueprints, Redemptive Politicians, Don Draper’s Truth, Marital Advice, Humanist Blasphemy, Mavis Staples, Bono, and Dropping Keys

1. This is embarrassing to admit. As much as I love The Replacements, it is The Wilson Quarterly that has truly been rocking my world this past week. Two articles in particular, both from their Spring issue, are worth mentioning here. First, there’s Sarah Courteau’s “Feel Free to Help Yourself”, in which the author surveys not only the history of self-help but allows herself to dabble in it sincerely. All very relevant and, well, helpful–but also not nearly as patronizing as some of us might be tempted to be. She writes, ht WB:

Self-help, along with the rest of the culture,…

Read More > > >

Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku's Pizza Stage

Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku’s Pizza Stage

1. First off, a little pop theology. Phillip Cary contributed an encouraging review of J.D. Greear’s sensationally titled Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart to the recent issue of Christianity Today, under the header “Anxious About Assurance”. As he does in his book Good News for Anxious Christians, Cary gets straight to the heart of the matter:

Greear is not saying it’s wrong to ask Jesus into your heart. He’s saying it’s not the same thing as believing the gospel. And if we want to be assured of salvation, it’s believing the gospel that actually counts. We are saved by faith…

Read More > > >

The Most Harmful Fiction That's Ever Been Promoted Anywhere

The Most Harmful Fiction That’s Ever Been Promoted Anywhere

The philosopher Roger Scruton wrote something a couple years ago that’s really stuck with me. He said, “in order to see human beings as they are, therefore, and to school oneself in the art of loving them, it is necessary to apply a dose of pessimism to all one’s plans and aspirations.” It’s very similar to what a certain colleague meant when he observed that, as a Christian minister, he’s had a lot more compassion and patience for “his flock” since he realized that everyone, himself included, is pretty much insane. “That’s so dark”, you say. “It’s not the whole…

Read More > > >