Mar. 22 at 8:47am
Today I'm ruminating on a fascinating psychological profile of atheists linked by a facebook friend.
I'm thinking about
1) the importance of relationships, especially in families, and the problem of alienation: the shut heart
2) the importance of gender difference, and the particular gift women are supposed to be for men
3) the problem of exaggerated value placed on intelligence, and the under appreciation of the role of the emotions in human life
I'm thinking about all this in relation to Jules' Person class tonight. His subject is the heart and the emotions. We've both been thinking and talking a lot about this passage from Pope Francis' inaugural homily on the Feast of St. Joseph:
Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!
I become daily more convinced of the importance of personalism for helping our sick society.
Gollum too, is a fitting example of addiction.
His 'precious' literally annihilates his personhood--splitting his personality into 2: such that he can no longer say 'me' but only 'we'.
In other words, he is not free to exercise an "I-Thou" relationship of persons, but pitifully, "we-it"
I argue that addiction does precisely this: objectifies the personal dimension of reality, such that everything to the addict can only be viewed in relation to the object, "it". Persons themselves are merely means to the end of possessing "it". It is nothing short of slavery to the "precious"
May. 20 at 4:10pm | See in context
The man with the lizard on his shoulder in Lewis' Great Divorce, captures addiction best in my view.
Of the handful of NA groups that I've sat in on, the addicts describe "stinkin' thinkin'" as a kind of rationalizing voice in their heads that convinces them to sabotage their sobreity. Particularly in times of family reunions or very stressful situations, the voice seems irresistible to them. They lose the ability to be responsible, and sabotage all for the sake of "getting a fix".
In Lewis' book, the man defeats the lizard with much difficulty--and promptly transforms into a much greater version of himself. This is the case too with the few instances of addicts I've seen who "kicked the habit", and were able to gain employment/independence/accountability for staying sober. They literally improve their posture/thought patterns/speech/etc. From vice to virtue--a very difficult road w/ drug use--and a desperate need for God's unmistakable grace.
May. 20 at 3:56pm | See in context
I find therefore the approch of Hagiotherapy and of an Italian sister (I think her name is Elvira) interesting; trying to heal the problem primarily on a spiritual level. I could imagine, however, that with some (or perhaps many) that might still not be enough, since the addiction also takes place on a physiological level, but hagiotheraphy addresses something about the root of addiction which, I assume, the average rehab doesn't.
May. 20 at 12:04pm | See in context
I've noticed Pope Benedict and Pope Francis both mentioning the problem of addiction as a serious threat to persons in the modern world. And I agree with you, Marie. The problem is much wider than we usually think.
May. 20 at 8:38am | See in context
On a side-note: I haven't read much about addiction, but I've always thought that its treatment requires an awareness of man's supernatural vocation. I'd be tempted to say that we are all addicts, so to speak, that we all try to fill the void in ourselves (which St. Augustine captured so well in saying that our hearts are restless until they rest in God); Pascal delineates with great psychological finesse the ways in which we throw ourselves into pleasures, the pursuit of glory, the bustle of work in order to fill that void. This, it seems to me (not being a professional pscyhologist, I don't know the medical definition of addiction), is addictive behavior; for some it gets out of hand and becomes more apparent to the world, especially when linked to drugs or alcohol which are addictive on a physiological level and destroy the person in a very visible way. Hence battling those addictions or idols means for all of us accepting the emptiness in oneself; the experience of the desert or of a dark night therefore seems essential in the spiritual life and necessary for God's descent, to use S. Weil's terminology (who was very influenced by Pascal).
May. 20 at 3:12am | See in context
Well...I think it must have been somebody else. It sounds like a different style than my mother's. Also, my mother read the piece and thanked me for "making up all those nice virtues" for her. It is true that my father would make pizza every Sunday night, so she didn't actually make a home-cooked meal every single day for fifty years, but the pizza had starch, vegetables and meat on it, so I figure that falls under poetic license.
She did respect us all as persons in a way I gradually realized was very unusual. I had friends whose parents let them express their freedom any way they wanted, because (in some ways) that was simpler for the grownups. I had other friends whose parents believed in objective right and wrong but micromanaged their lives and tastes down to the last detail. I'm sure my mother would disagree, but I think she managed a good balancing act.
May. 15 at 7:22pm | See in context
What a beautiful tribute!
I read an article many years ago by your mother, I think. (I mean I think it was by her.) It has stayed with me. She described sitting at a restaurant table with two worldly-minded women (was it her mother and sister?), and feeling a little frumpy and awkward and out of place. The other women were admiring each other's jewelry. The author blurted out, "I too have many precious gems. My children."
May. 13 at 5:31pm | See in context
even if we have greater or lesser degrees of "space" that we've created for God through love on Earth. There will be no sense of incompleteness, no lack, no frustration; there will only be complete union. God will be giving Himself completely to everyone of us (as I've also explained in my interpretation of the late-hour workers) - there will be no difference in this way. I agree with your (and St Therese's) understanding of sanctity, of completely depending on God, on complete trust; hence Our Lady is our model, she is full of grace - no sin is there to prevent God's grace from fully inhabiting her. We don't tend to have this complete dependence; some of us - like St Therese manage to have it to an extraordinary degree - and there are probably a lot more than we know, and yes sanctity is accessible to everyone of us. But that there are differences in how much we let God inhabit us and that this will be reflected in Heaven seems to make a lot of sense and is in line with the tradition of the Church. I hope this sheds some light on this discussion.
May. 11 at 2:49pm | See in context
I completely agree with many of the points you make, Patrick, which are very good. But I think you are working with the wrong notion of hierarchy, or rather are assuming that this notion of hierarchy is underyling what I'm trying to get at. I'd say that there is no contradiction between the hierarchy in Heaven I'm trying to capture here and St. Therese's little way, her understanding of sanctity etc. Perhaps you have in mind some of the paintings we know so well with the different layers of saints, closer or further away from God, and thus are using as a metaphor a ladder, or something of the kind. A metaphor only works in some respects and in others it is wrong. To think that we will be kept at a distance by God or that we achieve sanctity by climbing up the mountain would indeed be wrong. Perhaps the metaphor of pots works better (if I remember correctly, it was also used by St Therese): pots of different sizes are still completely full even if the quantity of water in them is of a different amount. Similarly our union with God will be complete;
May. 11 at 2:43pm | See in context
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