A man has been seeing a psychiatrist for many years. It has been a lifeline for him. But friends were shaken to see him emerge from a consultation in floods of tears, strange because this was the first time it…
Spending time at L’Abri is always a rewarding experience. Last time, I was able to sit down and chat with Dutch film-maker Jaap van Heusden. This time, I managed to complete a whole chapter of the book I’m working on, and get to know lots of great new people . One in particular is a wry, dry, and very witty guy from the Appalachians, who goes by the name Jonathan Rye. One evening he read one of poems which had me chuckling for a while afterwards. He kindly allowed me to post it here. (more…)
I’m trying to understand power – what it means, how it’s wielded, how it affects us. Big topic. But I’m increasingly convinced that we can’t understand the culture of suspicion without grasping the power of power (and itsabuses).
This has drawn meto someone who has been a bit of a hero, but whose writings I’d only dipped into. Reading Václav Havel‘s masterly and vital 1978 essay The Power of the Powerless has blown me away. Written in the dark days of Czechoslovak communism (only 10 years after the false dawn of the Prague Spring), it is a profound analysis of what it was like to live under a regime built entirely on lies. The only response, the only subversion of the regime, therefore, is to live in truth. (more…)
My mind is steeped in the mad and self-referential world of conspiracy theories at the moment, as I try to make a way through to something coherent. So this great cartoon from last week’s New Yorker nailed it for me.
C. S. Lewis was a great burster of pride’s balloons. His Screwtape Letters are a masterful model in how to do that. But he was only able to take aim with such accuracy that because he had come face to face with his own pride. And these two poems illustrate that perfectly. They take seriously the distorting effects of our own self-centredness, which warp our perception of reality and God, even when we pray. (more…)
It has its gainsayers (eg Steven Poole is pretty disparaging, though unfairly in my view) but George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (the whole essay is online), is prophetic. Of course some of his linguistic concerns are matters of taste and fashion (as Steven Poole rightly notes). But written at the close of the Second World War, this article exposes the sham sincerity and dissembling motivation behind so much political speech and writing. That is the essay’s great virtue. And it has not gone out of date at all. (more…)
- John Crace at his hilariously trenchant best, reducing Steve Jones’ The Serpent’s Promise to 600 words.
- Culture, Class and the Decline of Marriage by Ross Douthat. Very helpful insights into the wider context of recent gay marriage debates on both sides of the Atlantic. While Brendan O’Neill sees the whole issue as a case study in conformism.