Frankl on the importance of having a unique callingThis uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any, ‘how.’
Man's Search for Meaning
Jun. 3, 2012, at 5:47pm
I'm sure it wasn't only because the Personalist Project is based here. :) Even so, it was great to hear that the 2015 World Meeting of Families will take place in the City of Brotherly Love. I can see this becoming ground zero in the battle to preserve traditional marriage in America, especially in the face of growing pressure from the SSM lobby.
The Pope also stressed the importance of family life built upon a man and woman who are married to each other. This is because God “created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community …
Jun. 1, 2012, at 10:19am
A Victor Davis Hansen post at NRO about Massachusetts Senatorial Candidate Elizabeth Warren and her risible claim of minority status as a Cherokee Indian neatly captures the truth-denial at the heart of post-modernism.
Warren’s statement is simply untenable and will have to be withdrawn, because if it is not, then we are essentially saying facts are what we choose to say facts are, and we can write or say anything we want and claim it as truth by reason of rumor, or serial insistence, or good intentions. Warren says all this is a distraction from her otherwise sterling academic record, but an academic career is nothing without allegiance to facts and honest scholarship; in fact this weird …
Jun. 1, 2012, at 1:26am
New York wants to outlaw the Slurpee. School bake sales and homemade lunches have fallen under suspicion. Exorbitant fines have been levied on a peace-loving Idaho couple for moving some dirt onto a dry plot of ground that--sure enough--turned out not to be a wetland after all. Rules and regulations are sprouting faster than the weeds on our lawn since the three-year-old has learned to turn on the sprinkler.
But I fondly remember an institution that took a very different approach.
On my first day of college, President Peter V. Sampo (center, below) of the Thomas More Institute of Liberal Arts sat us down to lay out the rules.
There were three of them.
Number One: No hanging out in …continue reading
May. 29, 2012, at 11:09pm
This started out as a brief response in discussion of my earlier post on SSM, but developed into a further article. I think what Katie and Jules worry about in terms of the corrosion of the natural moral sense, the impairing of ethical judgment, and the destructive effect on the moral imagination of having to deal openly with “unthinkable” evils (abortion, infanticide, homosexual relations, SSM), expresses existentially the reason why not only martyrs and virgins, but doctors of the church have special feasts and a special office in the Breviary—they have to deal with all the "unthinkables" because somebody has to refute them.
This is their crown of thorns but it is a special work of …continue reading
May. 29, 2012, at 7:20pm
Janet Smith links a Vatican Insider article on facebook revealing the shocking extent to which Karol Wojtyla was spied on for decades, by priests and others close to him in Poland, until he was elected Pope.
There were questions about his habits in the office, which documents he took home with him, whether he took the keys to his desk with him, what he talked about at lunch, whether he “liked playing bridge or other card games, or chess” and with whom he played, whether he smoked or whether he liked alcoholic drinks (“how much does he drink and how often”). The secret police even wanted to know “who supplied his underwear,” who “washed his underwear, socks etc.,” whether “he possessed a …
May. 29, 2012, at 10:43am
In regard to Katie’s question, “To speak or not to speak” about same sex marriage, it does seem to me that we have to speak up despite the delicacies—and crudities—involved. Otherwise, we abandon the field to the propagandists who are already veritably overrunning us. As was mentioned in the article, we can hardly shield our children (at least not for very long) from these realities in our culture—and even home-schoolers are part of mass society. Eventually, by the teen-age years at the least if not before, they will be exposed to all that goes on in America despite restrictions on TV, movies, etc.
It takes real heroism to speak up against the homosexual lobby. People who do so and …continue reading
May. 23, 2012, at 11:19pm
What word is more overused than “love”? Well, maybe none, but I'll wager “self-esteem” runs a respectable second, especially in America.
Or there was that class my daughter once took in which she was asked to describe herself in a poem. One classmate’s effort began:
"I love me. / I'm cool as can be."
It went on in that vein, and it didn’t get better, either. It became a sort of anti-legend in our house, an archetype of How You Kids Must Not Turn Out.
And yet, there’s clearly such a thing as healthy self-esteem, or …continue reading
May. 23, 2012, at 10:00am
NRO has an article by Kevin Williamson today that exhibits some basic confusions in the SSM debate.
He begins with a bit of Eisenhower lore.
One of my favorite political fables concerns Dwight D. Eisenhower and his tenure as president of Columbia University. The campus was undergoing an expansion, and Ike was presented with two very different plans for laying out new sidewalks. The architects were irreconcilable, each insisting that his plan was the only way to go and that the other guy had it all wrong. Ike, sensible fellow that he was, had grass planted instead, telling the architects to wait a year and see where the students trod paths in the turf, and then to put the sidewalks there. …
May. 21, 2012, at 4:12pm
President Obama's announced support of "same-sex marriage" (SSM) has put the issue in the center of public attention. Articles and blogs on the subject are proliferating all over the internet. It's become the stuff of casual conversation even among home-schooled teenagers. It is practially impossible to keep young children from hearing about homosexuality and asking questions.
This raises a serious dilemma for me, and all of us. On the one hand, the SSM lobby relies on and takes advantage of a natural reluctance on the part of most to think and talk about what homosexuality is. They prefer to keep the discussion focussed on subjective feelings and individual rights: "I love my …continue reading
May. 21, 2012, at 10:21am
A fourth option for dealing with the miseries and pains of life is that of genuine hope. How does this differ from mere optimism? How does is compare to pessimism? Well, it is an attempt to face the evils of life realistically while not succumbing to them as the last word (vs. pessimism); but, in order to do so, hope must break the bounds of just this world of space and time (vs. mere optimism) where “death comes as the end.” Hope must find a genuine foundation on which to acknowledge misery without despair, but rather with a realistic possibility of breaking through to genuine happiness.
That true foundation is ultimately the power and goodness of God; therefore, hope is based on …continue reading
May. 18, 2012, at 12:28pm
This is not a book review. I haven't yet read the new book by one Arlie Russell Hochschild. But I want to address the same subject: the striking trend toward paying strangers to do things once thought too personal to entrust to another: what she calls "outsourcing the self."
Just how personal are these things? That depends. On the more prosaic side, there's the unremarkable delegation of tasks that are too onerous or time-consuming to attend to oneself: you could call it "outsourcing" when an assemblage of villagers would arrange a division of labor to avoid duplication of everyone's efforts. Nothing revolutionary here.
At the other extreme is the futile attempt to pay someone to do …continue reading
May. 15, 2012, at 10:21am
An online friend pointed me to a sobering article in Business Insider on Cardinal George's warnings about the HHS mandate.
George wrote in his column that the "The State was making itself into a Church" and said he longed for "the separation of Church and State" that Americans enjoyed recently, "when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not."
George compared the Obama's vision of "religious liberty" of the United States to that of the Soviet Union in a passage worth quoting at length:
Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if …
May. 14, 2012, at 2:43pm
One of the lines that stays with me from the high-flying years of the charismatic renewal in the '80s came from a homily or a talk by (I think) Fr. Michael Scanlon at FUS. He recounted the day when a fellow-traveler in the renewal asked him, "How are you doing, Father?" He replied, "Pretty well, under the circumstances." Then came the robust retort: "What are you doing under the circumstances?"
It was a great laugh line for spiritual pep talk. And it captures an important personalist truth. We're meant to take charge of ourselves; to master our circumstances, not to be mastered by them. We are self-determining moral agents, not just undergoers-of-experience.
On the other hand, too …continue reading
May. 13, 2012, at 6:58pm
Pessimism is an attempt at an “honest” solution to the problem of the miseries of life. It tries to face squarely the reality of evil, pain, death, change, catastrophe, etc., and then offers a way to shield oneself from these inevitable facts of life by steeling oneself against them, not letting oneself be touched by them, by showing an enduring toughness and self-sufficiency in accepting them. It espouses only a negative definition of happiness, relief from misery, without any positive components. The problem with all this “realism” and “honesty” is the underlying assumption that evil, pain, and misery ultimately win out in life and in being. But is this true? Is it honest? Is it …continue reading
May. 10, 2012, at 9:07pm
A couple of weeks ago, in a post on our member forum, Rhett Segal criticized Søren Kierkegaard for “his categorical rejection of any mixed motives relative to the pursuit of the good. To call for the elimination of any desire for reward or the elimination of any fear of punishment is to deny human nature.”
I just found a great passage in Romano Guardini’s The Lord that confirms and amplifies Rhett’s point.
Guardini notices that whereas Christ often emphasizes the rewards we gain and punishments we avoid by being good, modern ethicists commonly disapprove of such ulterior and mercenary motives. Genuine morality, they insist, does not need to be threatened or beguiled into goodness; it …continue reading
May. 9, 2012, at 10:19pm
Judge not, that you be not judged.... Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Don't compare your inside to someone else's outside.
--All over the internet
The first quote needs no introduction. This passage, or at least the "Judge not" part, has got to be every bit as popular with non-Christians as John 3:16 is with Tim Tebow.
The second quote is a piece of pop wisdom I ran into thanks to the always-entertaining Susie Lloyd and liked. (I've gotten far less snobbish in my old age and no longer turn up my nose at wisdom that comes in pop clothing: it's all part of "Diligere veritatem omnem et in omnibus"- …continue reading
May. 9, 2012, at 2:36pm
The other day a friend sent me a message asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a book she's just published. I told her I was scared I would hate it, which would put me in a dilemma. I'm a critic by nature and vocation. I can't dissemble. And I'm afraid my honest impressions would discourage her in her work.
She laughed and assured me that she finds private criticism helpful. Then she sent me the book. It came in the mail just now.
As I held it, disliking the cover art, it occurred to me: Wait a sec. "Private criticism"? Did she mean (perhaps unconsciously) to bind me not to say anything in public?
Maybe she didn't mean to do that at all, but it's a notion I come across …continue reading
May. 8, 2012, at 10:02pm
This Israeli movie has charmed my personalist socks off. It now holds a coveted place on my list of top ten fabulous foreign films. Jules and I heard about it from friend Scott Johnston and watched it together the other night.
Points I loved:
- How universal human themes come through in the very peculiarity and strangeness (to us) of orthodox Jewish culture. This is more proof (because we keep needing it) that hings don't become more "universal" when they're render more generic and unexceptional. On the contrary.
- How raw and real the characters are in their expression of their emotions and in their relationships with each other, and with God. Nothing theoretical or artificial …continue reading
May. 7, 2012, at 11:18am
Another way of trying to deal with the miseries of life involves an attitude that may be termed “earthly optimism.” It some ways it is a more formalized type of escapism, but now developed into theory of life, either on a popular or on a more sophisticated intellectual level.
On the popular level, we might term this a “Pollyanna” attitude, though I don’t mean thereby to make a judgment about Disney’s 1960 movie of the same name. (Like every other red-blooded American 10-to-15-year-old male of my generation, I fell deeply in love with Hayley Mills after seeing that movie, rivaling even my devotion to Annette Funicello. So I do not mean to tread on anyone’s sacred memories here!) …continue reading
May. 7, 2012, at 8:59am
Last summer I became engrossed in the TV show Hoarders. I'd watch it with a mixture of horrified fascination and immense pity. What an unbelievable condition! How sad and bizarre!
This morning it occurred to me to think that hoarders have a gift to offer. They give outward display of an inward condition of the soul afflicting maybe most of us.
Hoarders' lives are gradually overwhelmed by their things. When a room becomes uninhabitable because it's filled with trash, they stop using it. Eventually their living space is reduced to narrow pathways between piles of junk.
Isn't this just the state so many of our souls are in? Don't we let junk pile up? — sins, bad memories, wounds, lies, …continue reading