Colbert, despre suferință și recunoștință

Cel mai bun “profil” pe care l-am citit în ultimul an. Stephen Colbert, vorbind despre ce a însemnat să-și piardă tatăl și doi frați când avea zece ani:

‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.

I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. “Tolkien says, in a letter back: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”

Bârna din ochiul liberal-ateu

Atât de tribalist a devenit războiul cultural între ateii liberal-progresivi și creștinii conservatori încât aproape nimeni nu vede bârna din ochiul taberei din care face parte. Tocmai de asta interviul cu Camille Paglia din Salon e o gură de aer proaspăt.

Dacă criticile idolilor seculari ca Dawkins și Jon Stewart ar fi venit din tabăra cealaltă, ar fi fost ignorate complet. Dar nu vin din tabăra cealaltă, ci de la una dintre cele mai puternice voci liberale din ultimele două decenii:

I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society. There is a huge metaphysical realm out there that involves the eternal principles of life and death. The great tragic texts, including the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, no longer have the central status they once had in education, because we have steadily moved away from the heritage of western civilization.

Sfârșitul creștinismului în Orientul Mijlociu

Now, ISIS is looking to eradicate Christians and other minorities altogether. The group twists the early history of Christians in the region — their subjugation by the sword — to legitimize its millenarian enterprise. Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizya tax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-­infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.

Eliza Griswold – Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?

Creștinismul lui Kierkegaard

What Kierkegaard showed was that the only serious alternative to atheism or agnosticism was not what generally passes for religion but a much deeper commitment that left ordinary standards of proof and evidence completely behind. Perhaps that’s why so many of Kierkegaard’s present-day admirers are atheists. He was a Christian who nonetheless despised ‘Christendom’. To be a Christian was to stake one’s life on the absurdity of the risen Christ, to commit to an ethical standard no human can reach. This is a constant and in some ways hopeless effort at perpetually becoming what you can never fully be. Nothing could be more different from the conventional view of what being a Christian means: being born and baptised into a religion, dutifully going to Church and partaking in the sacraments. Institutionalised Christianity is an oxymoron, given that the Jesus of the Gospels spent so much time criticising the clerics of his day and never established any alternative structures.

Julian Baggini – I Still Love Kierkegaard

The Inklings

What did the Inklings, as this group of friends called themselves, believe? How did their beliefs affect their writing and thinking? What did they hope to achieve with their novels, stories and nonfiction? These are the sort of questions that most interest the Zaleskis. Overall, they argue that the Inklings aimed at nothing less than “a revitalization of Christian intellectual and imaginative life.”

Michael Dirda – ‘The Fellowship’ explores the spiritual roots of Tolkien and the Inklings

Înțelepciune vs poluare mentală

When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.

Enciclica Papei Francisc – Laudato si’

Răspunsuri la întrebările care contează

“What am I doing here? What is my life for? Does it have any purpose beyond itself?” These are questions which human beings have always asked and are still there even though today to even ask such questions is something like bad manners. What is even more, the spaces where such questions might be asked — let alone answered — have shrunk not only in number but in their ambition for answers. And if people no longer seek for answers in churches will they find them in occasional visits to art galleries or book clubs? (…)

For some years now I have been especially struck by accounts I have heard and read of people who have chosen to convert to Islam. Partly these stories are striking because they are so similar — and not only to each other. They are almost always some variant of a story nearly any young person could tell. They generally go something like this: “I had reached X age (often the twenties or early thirties) and I was in a nightclub and I was drunk and I just thought, ‘Life must be about more than this’.” Almost nothing else in our culture says, “But of course this is not all.” Instead the voice of our culture just says, “repeat, repeat.”

Douglas Murray – Is the West’s Loss of Faith Terminal?


Cine mai crede în miracole?

If you start with the assumption that God does not exist, then you might not make it to the resurrection. But if your worldview allows for the possibility of a God who is very interested in justice being brought about in our physical world, then something like the resurrection of Jesus becomes at least a possibility. Yes, a belief in miracles requires a certain worldview, just like a belief in the impossibility of miracles requires one. There is no view from nowhere. People see what they expect to see. They also fail to see what they don’t expect to see.

Brandon Ambrosino – Why I Shouldn’t Believe in the Resurrection, But Do

Ce fel de oameni sunteți?

În România suntem obișnuiți să vedem politicieni făcând paradă cu credința lor în preajma sărbătorilor și în campania electorală, știind că dă bine în sondaje. Într-o cultură seculară ca cea britanică, e pe dos. Asumarea credinței e un act mai degrabă de curaj decât de oportunism. Michael Gove:

Praying? What kind of people are you?

Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.

But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.