I couldn’t let this day pass without posting my favorite passage from Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love, in which our favorite Swiss pop-philosopher/religious atheist hints at the appeal of ‘true religion’ under the guise of abreactive art and in the process gives us a crash, er, course on grace in relationships. It comes from mid-way through the book in the chapter on “Universal Blame” (ouch!), just after one of the protagonists, Rabih, finds out that his position at work may soon be up for grabs. In other words, if things don’t turn around, he’s going to lose his…
Beloved, we are always in the wrong,
Handling so clumsily our stupid lives,
Suffering too little or too long,
Too careful even in our selfish loves:
The decorative manias we obey
Die in grimaces round us every day,
Yet through their tohu-bohu comes a voice
Which utters an absurd command – Rejoice.
Rejoice. What talent for the makeshift thought
A living corpus out of odds and ends?
What pedagogic patience taught
Preoccupied and savage elements
To dance into a segregated charm?
Who showed the whirlwind how to be an arm,
And gardened from the wilderness of space
The sensual properties of one dear face?
Rejoice, dear love, in Love’s peremptory word;
All chance, all love, all logic, you and I,
Exist by grace of the Absurd,
And without conscious artifice we die:
O, lest we manufacture in our flesh
The lie of our divinity afresh,
Describe round our chaotic malice now,
The arbitrary circle of a vow.
This marital reflection comes to us from Samuel Son.
Fifteen years of marriage and I’m gonna cut to the chase — and through the rosy laces — and tell you that it has been ass-kickingly difficult: 15 years of a selfish person learning to live with another selfish person. Indeed, my wife is my Eve, my ripped-off rib.
Those fifteen years would have been more pleasant if our times together were sparse and sporadic, like those good friends you visit only when you travel and need to save hotel money. But it was nearly every day of those 15 years. I…
As of late, the subject of one’s past has become a pretty popular topic. Political candidates and beauty contestants alike all seem to have histories that are up for discussion and judgment. And the past, in our current climate, appears to generally be full of things people want to remain hidden.
Of course, the past always has a way of whispering hello to us, all these years later.
In early June I was driving our children up from Mississippi to Sewanee, Tennessee. Which meant, as luck would have it, that we drove right past Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Many of my weekends in college…
As with most of the provocative second half of Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, the following excerpt goes well beyond abstractions and gets uncomfortably close to the bone–in the best possible way. The language here has to do with marriage, but you could easily substitute a variety of other relational contexts:
Men and women encounter a serpent-ridden wilderness of Eden when they enter into marriage. Competition for need-fulfillment and attention squanders huge amounts of energy in resentment and suppressed antagonism. The nature of the law is to place every single marriage under the Damocles’ sword of needs to be met. The word…
This beautiful story comes to us from Julian Brooks:
The following is a true story. But before I share it, here’s a brief disclaimer that should keep in perspective the purpose of this story, of why it is worth sharing.
Grace cannot guarantee results or change. If it could, it would simply turn back into law. Law promises this for that–that’s exactly why the law can’t produce what it demands. Grace simply loves. Its reason for turning the other cheek is not because it guarantees that its enemies will no longer strike. It turns the other cheek because it loves its enemies more than it loves itself….
A few more quotes from Alain de Botton’s wonderful new book, The Course of Love, all taken from the penultimate chapter where he outlines what it might look like to be “Ready for Marriage”:
Pronouncing a lover “perfect” can only be a sign that we have failed to understand them. We can claim to have begun to know someone only when they have substantially disappointed us.
However, the problems aren’t theirs alone. Whomever we could meet would be radically imperfect: the stranger on the train, the old school acquaintance, the new friend online… Each of these, too, would be guaranteed to let…
A few months after my wife and I got engaged, an older friend of hers pulled me aside and tried to do me a favor. He told me that if there was anything he wished he could have told his premarital self, it was that, no matter who you marry, they will be coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, culturally speaking. If he had known that up front, it might have spared him and his significant other considerable heartache.
Like much of what people tell you before you get married (or have kids), his words were both 100% true…
The bad news is, we have to wait until July before we can hold Heather Havrileksy’s How to Be a Person in the World in our sweaty hands. The good news is, the Ask Polly columnist wrote an article for The Cut this week about “What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage”, which easily tops the list of this year’s Valentines-related reading. In prime fashion, Heather debunks a few of our culture’s most destructive illusions about long-term romantic relationships (short of the Soulmate Myth). But it’s not just for married folks. It’s for all of us who’ve ever…
As God’s providence would have it, a few weeks ago one of my fellow suburban moms said to me, “Sarah, you are either a lice family or a butt worm family.” Today, I found out we are the former. And yes, butt worms are a thing. They have a more scientific name. But really, do you want to know more than that?
Upon receiving the school email I started to grapple with my new reality. I left work. I went to the drug store. I bought the lower shelf in a section marked “itchy.” And then I went home to my husband who had…