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Posts tagged "Simone Weil"

Gravity, Grace, Weight, Love

Gravity, Grace, Weight, Love

In one of her strange and gleaming essays in The Givenness of Things, Marilynne Robinson describes grace this way: ‘Grace’ is a word without synonyms, a concept without paraphrase. It might seem to have distinct meanings, aesthetic and theological, but these are aspects of one thing—an alleviation, whether of guilt, of self-interest, or of limitation. […]

Another Week Ends: More Declining Humanities, You Shall Know Them by Their Google-Searches, Some Simone Weil, Garrison Keillor Goes to Church, the New Male (?) Self-Improvement, and Social-Media Shaming

Another Week Ends: More Declining Humanities, You Shall Know Them by Their Google-Searches, Some Simone Weil, Garrison Keillor Goes to Church, the New Male (?) Self-Improvement, and Social-Media Shaming

1. First up, education. Ross Douthat at the NYT this week wrote a thoughtful appeal for the humanities, which are in serious decline. At the top thirty colleges (according to the formidable US News rankings), the proportion of humanities majors has fallen from about a third in the early 2000s to around a fifth today. […]

Memories from the Future: A Word on Abandoned Houses, Nostalgia, and the Hope of the World

Memories from the Future: A Word on Abandoned Houses, Nostalgia, and the Hope of the World

Grateful for this incredible piece by Nate Mills: When I was 3 or 4 I had an apocalyptic vision. It may not have been as otherworldly as the Ancient of Days appearing in resplendent glory like in Daniel 7, but it was unmistakably surreal. My family was taking a road trip from our home in […]

On Failing French and Prayer

On Failing French and Prayer

 This one comes to us from our friend, Cort Gatliff. When my wife, Abby, and I were dating, she told me not to bother trying to marry her unless I was willing to move to France, where she could perfect her near-fluent command of the French language. Assuming this ultimatum fell into the category of […]

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil.  He brought me out and made me […]

Rethinking Hozier’s Hozier

Rethinking Hozier’s Hozier

If you know anything about last year’s very popular singer-songwriter, Hozier, you’re already aware of his, shall we say, ‘low view’ of Christianity—that he will not go to church unless you take him, and that if you do take him, he’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies. He’s pretty vocal about […]

Prerequisite to Dignity of Purposelessness

Prerequisite to Dignity of Purposelessness

Sometimes I get the willies from vocation conversations, and I think this is why: Whatever the formal definition is, in practice “vocation” seems to be a mash-up between purpose and career—like, two of the most intimidating topics did the dirty and gave birth to this mutant problem child that ill-equipped young adults like myself must […]

The Only Ones Who Can Tell the Truth

Two weeks before her death, Simone Weil—semi-Catholic philosopher, hunger-striker, political activist—wrote a letter to her parents about the source of truth in Shakespeare:

“There is a class of people in this world who have fallen into the lowest degree of humiliation, far below beggary, and who are deprived not only of all social consideration but also, in everybody’s opinion, of the specific human dignity, reason itself—and these are the only people who, in fact, are able to tell the truth. All the others lie.”

For Weil, the truthful characters are the fools. Neither protagonists nor antagonists, the fools are the outcasts, the supporting roles, the ones for whom no ulterior motives can cloud their eyes. The real tragedy, according to Weil, is not the death of the entire cast, but rather that no one would listen to the fool.

dumb-and-dumber-2“In Lear it is striking. Even Kent and Cordelia attenuate, mitigate, soften, and veil the truth; and unless they are forced to choose between telling it and telling a downright lie, they manoeuvre to evade it. What makes the tragedy extreme is the fact that because the fools possess no academic titles or episcopal dignities and because no one is aware that their sayings deserve the slightest attention—everybody being convinced a priori of the contrary, since they are fools—their expression of truth is not even listened to. Everybody, including Shakespeare’s readers and audiences … is unaware that what they say is true. And not satirically or humorously true, but simply the truth. Pure unadulterated true—luminous, profound and essential.

Simone Weil on the Cross

From Gravity and Grace.

GravityGraceWEB“Christ healing the sick, raising the dead, etc–that is the humble, human, almost low part of his mission. The supernatural part is the sweat of blood, the unsatisfied longing for human consolation, the supplication that he might be spared, the sense of being abandoned by God. The abandonment at the supreme moment of the crucifixion, what an abyss of love on both sides!

“The cross. The tree of sin was a real tree, the tree of life was a wooden beam. Something which does not give fruit, but only vertical movement. “The Son of Man must be lift up and he will draw all men unto himself.” We can kill the vital energy in ourselves while keeping only the vertical movement. Leaves and fruit are a waste of energy if our only wish is to rise. Adam and Eve sought for divinity in vital energy–a tree, fruit. But it is prepared for us on dead wood, geometrically squared, where a corpse is hanging. We must look for the secret of our kinship to God in our mortality.

“We have to cross the infinite thickness of time and space–and God has to do it first, because he comes to us first. Of the links between God and man, love is the greatest…God crosses through the thickness of the world to come to us.”

Simone Weil on the Lever of the Cross

This comes from her collection of mind-melding meditations, Gravity and Grace.

The cross as a balance, as a lever. A going down, the condition of a rising up. Heaven coming down to earth raises earth to heaven. A lever. We lower when we want to lift.

weil_simone-19770512023f-2_gif_300x344_q85…It is human misery and not pleasure which contains the secret of the divine wisdom. All pleasure-seeking is the search for an artificial paradise, an intoxication, an enlargement. But it gives us nothing except the experience that it is vain. Only the contemplation of our limitations and our misery puts us on a higher plane. ‘Whosoever humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ The upward movement in us is vain (and less than vain) if it does not come from a downward movement.

…When the whole universe weighs upon us there is no other counterweight possible but God himself–the true God, for in this case false gods cannot do anything, not even under the name of the true one. Evil is infinite in the sense of being indefinite: matter, space, time. Nothing can overcome this kind of infinity except the true infinity. That is why on the balance of the cross a body which was frail and light but which was God, lifted up the whole world. ‘Give me a point of leverage and I will lift up the world.’ This point of leverage is the cross. There can be no other. It has to be at the intersection of the world and that which is not the world. The cross is this intersection.