Oct. 22, 2010, at 4:02pm
Saturday evening Jules and I hosted a reading circle gathering centered on Vaclav Havel’s great and influential essay, The Power of the Powerless. The essay deals with the web of lies that had engulfed eastern European society under the domination of communist ideology and Soviet military power—the suffering it caused, and the struggle for truth and freedom that could bring it down.
Havel points out in the essay that the then-state of the east should serve as a warning to the west, which contains within its own alienated, de-spiritualized, consumerist culture the seeds of the same human catastrophe.
One way to arm ourselves for the resistance is to feel our way imaginatively into the nightmare. A great way to do that is to watch movies that bring it vividly to life. Here is a list of my favorites.
The first three are especially great; alll show the horror of Soviet communism and the triumph of the human spirit in spite of it.
NB: Some of these—the first especially—have some rather raw scenes. Eminent Domain and White Nights both make for great family-film night viewing for families with kids old enough to cope with some serious thinking about the nature of evil.
I love this.
One of my pet peeves is the nostalgia so many conservatives express for arranged marriages, which generally goes hand in hand with an identification of "western style" marriages with the "whatever feels good" romanticism of contemporary pop culture. That's better described as secular than western.
In any case, what we should aim for, it seems to me, is the realization of the Christian ideal of marriage, which includes both romantic love and indissolubility.
Another point: Those self-help books can contain quite a lot of practical wisdom.
I'm really glad that couple found each other again. What a beautiful story.
Jan. 24 at 5:18pm | See in context
Glad to hear it Devra.
I've heard that the new design takes too long to load. I'll look into that in the next few days.
I've also noticed that the cursor in the comment form is sometimes invisible. It's still there, and one can still enter text. But it's annoying. So I'll look into that as well.
Jan. 24 at 3:56pm | See in context
This seems to work fine on both desktop and tablet.
Jan. 23 at 4:03pm | See in context
I've heard great things about Benedictine and have lots of friends with kids there. God bless that visit, and you too.
Jan. 22 at 11:30am | See in context
Great article, she makes some beautiful points, as do you. I have nothing against candor, and I know the HF's heart is in the right place on Catholic teaching. That being said, I do think candor and caution can go hand in hand. He could convict those of us who need convicting without causing pain amongst lovely faithful non-hardened Catholic women (and men). That's my thought; I know prudence is an unsexy virtue but I am coming to appreciate it more and more as I age, having so little of it myself by nature. God bless you and your fine work, Katie, and thanks for a civil and enlightening discussion. Can I ask your prayers as my 17 year old daughter Margaret and I head to Benedictine College today for a visit? Have a great day-- Nancy
Jan. 22 at 11:15am | See in context
Personally, I like his mode of "incaution". I think it's doing a lot of great good, including by exposing the lack of love and faith on "my side" of the cultural divide in the Church. Those of us who have always been faithful to her teachings are (like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son) apt not to notice when our hearts are gradually becoming hard or proud or complacent.
Startling and/or challenging words from the Holy Father can (and should) prompt a fresh self-examination in us. I know I've been convicted more than once by him.
As for those ladies, I think this article by a Filipina woman, which I read last night hits the nail on the head. The Holy Father wasn't talking about them.
Jan. 22 at 9:59am | See in context
And boy does it delight in using incautious phrasings as sticks to beat the faithful with. I'm not saying the Holy Father is to blame for the world's disingenuousness, but that his high office demands he be aware of it and be more cunning when he speaks. But yeah, I could wish folks could be more restrained in their commentary on both "sides" (I don't mean you, I think your tone is exemplary). It's probably a result of the exhaustion we all feel at fighting the world all the blessed time.
Jan. 21 at 8:26pm | See in context
Jan. 21 at 8:25pm | See in context
Ack, Nancy! I hadn't meant that last comment to be a direct response to you. I should have made that clear. It was more a response to friends who have been commenting on facebook, including saying things like the Pope's comment was "disgusting" or a fiasco. I want more people to know how many Catholic couples are suffering in silence, either because they have misunderstood Church teaching, or because fellow Catholics are judging them unjustly.
As for your concern about that woman, I can see what you mean, but I sincerely doubt it was like that. I mean, I think it's perfectly likely that she felt helped and reassured, not judged by the Pope when he spoke with her.
If his experience of their interaction was entirely positive, then there would be nothing wrong with his referring to it when making a more general point. It's the sort of thing priests and public speakers and writers do all the time to make their meaning clearer.
Jan. 21 at 7:55pm | See in context
Katie, I absolutely agree there has been a need to say something exactly for women like ths one you quote; I am a woman in a similar situation, facing more than one autoimmune disease that could put me out of commission permanently without caution. My quibble is with using a specific example which can cause as much pain in some cases as it may relieve in others. I don't doubt the benignity of the Holy Father's intent, and I often thank Heaven I am not in any such position myself due to foot in mouth disease, but when you're the Pope, you've got to be more careful. This just didn't happen with JPII or B16. Of course, not everybody's strong suit is prudence... *raises hand*
Jan. 21 at 7:45pm | See in context
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