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Marie Meaney

Joined: Nov. 22, 2011

Bio:

Currently living in Rome (Italy) with my husband and daughter, I’m working on a project on totalitarian evil from the perspectives of Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt. My book Simone Weil’s Apologetic Use of Literature: Her Christological Interpretations of Classic Greek Texts appeared with OUP in 2008. I’ve also worked on the topic of infertility, and my booklet “Embracing the Cross of Infertility” (HLI, 2010.) has appeared in an expanded version in German, Hungarian, Croatian and Spanish. Before moving to Italy due to my husband’s work, I was an Arthur Ennis Teaching Fellow at Villanova University from 2007 to 2010. My background is in philosophy and comparative literature.


Most recent posts by Marie Meaney:     (See all of them)


Dwarfing the Other

May. 26 at 1:55pm | Comments: 9 | Most recent comment: Jun. 5 at 2:02pm

Sin attempts to dwarf the other, sizes him down to the level I want him to be. If I gossip, the other simply becomes something to be gloated over, belittled, and judged. In anger, I try to strike him down, so that he is nothing more than my perception of him; in my eyes he is nothing but the despicable act or vice to which I have reduced him. I will lash out at him again, if he tries to...

The Gift of Joy

Apr. 22 at 1:28pm | Comments: 4 | Most recent comment: Apr. 24 at 1:11pm

How can one experience joy in the midst of great suffering? I mean true and genuine joy, which comes from the heart, not stoically putting on a brave face, hiding one’s inner Golgatha behind a fake smile; or narcissistically gazing at one’s own courage in the face of great adversity while masochistically enjoying one’s suffering. This question came to my mind recently, when writing an article for Crisis-Magazine on Chiara Corbella, a young Italian...

“Boxing” Others

Feb. 17 at 1:35pm | Comments: 16 | Most recent comment: May. 5 at 9:42pm

I’m not speaking here of a boxing-match or of bullies who like beating up others. What I’m referring to is the widespread human temptation to put others into “boxes”. What makes this so terrible, and yet so tremendously tempting? It can seem an innocent enough pastime. What I tell my spouse or mother, or what I talk about in the inner recesses of the family, won’t hurt anybody, right? I can trust...

The Spirit of Worldliness

Dec. 3 at 3:26am | Comments: 3 | Most recent comment: Dec. 4 at 9:59am

In his homily during his daily mass the other day, Pope Francis warned against the spirit of worldliness. He called it “a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness” (http://www.romereports.com/palio/pope-take-note-adolescent-progressivism-protects-human-sacrifices-english-11629.html#.UouFmsScdya). These are strong words, and we have seen so far that Pope Francis is not afraid of calling the devil by his name nor speaking about the momentous choices each one of us...

When Faith becomes Ideology

Oct. 28 at 3:52am | Comments: 16 | Most recent comment: Nov. 19 at 5:33am

  To speak about faith becoming an ideology seems to be a contradiction in terms, at least to the faithful Catholic. For ideology is a construction, a system covering up and closing one off from reality while giving the false impression of having an explanation for everything; faith, however, is based on truth as revealed by God and is also accessible to reason (in contrast, any kind of belief is called an “ideology” these days, the underlying supposition...


Latest comments by Marie Meaney:     (See all of them)


Re: Thoughts on modesty abroad, in three vignettes

Jun. 9 at 12:49pm | see this comment in context

Furthermore, much about fashion and modesty is relative; while showing one’s ankle in Victorian times was considered indecent, this would hardly make anybody in the West blush today. However, there are some things, which, I’d say, are not relative.

Having taught at a fairly liberal university myself, I found it interesting that my male colleagues, who were anything but puritans in their morals and ideas, complained about the scanty clothing of their female students in the summer. “They don’t know what they are doing to us”, they would say. They would try to avoid looking in their direction. Hence, I don’t think that women showing their breasts on the beach is a good idea in our culture. Yes, being puritanical can make one uncomfortable with one’s body, self-righteous, rigid etc., apart from not being a virtue in the first place whilst pretending to be so. But not having a sense of modesty, being oblivious to the fact that showing too much skin will put one at greater risk of being objectified or intentionally flaunting one’s sexuality is not good either (not that you are saying so).  

Re: Thoughts on modesty abroad, in three vignettes

Jun. 9 at 12:47pm | see this comment in context

Similarly with regard to good and evil.  The real, absolute good is above evil and not its contrary. “[Relative] good as the opposite of evil,” writes Weil, “is in a sense equivalent to it… That which is the direct opposite of evil never belongs to the order of the higher good”. The kind of relative good, which replaces evil is itself evil, but in the guise of the good. Thus theft and the bourgeois respect of property, or adultery and being a “respectable woman” are on the same level, according to Weil. Though the bourgeois and the respectable woman feel far superior to the thief and the adulterer, they are hardly above. Their righteousness is of the pharisaical kind, and not a true adherence to virtue.  Analogously one could say that the puritanically modest is not really better than the immodest.

Hence I agree with you that modesty talks that speak about the details of fashion are not helpful. Often they make one think of rules rather than of the heart of the matter; they can lead to puritanism and self-righteousness.

Re: Thoughts on modesty abroad, in three vignettes

Jun. 9 at 12:46pm | see this comment in context

The conversation has moved on, since I wrote this up this morning. But I thought it might still be of interest (especially what Weil has to say).

I’m with you in your critique of American puritanism, Katie, which one finds both in its religious as well as its secular form. Having been raised outside of the US, I never found that aspect of American culture appealing.

Having said that, I think there is a danger to go from a reaction against libertinism to a reaction against puritanism. In each case, one is only getting at part of the truth. Simone Weil was very insightful in this area, and saw “the right” and “the left”, for example, as being in reaction to each other, and therefore more similar than they would like to think. The truth is not in a reaction to various sides, but is above this.

Re: Dwarfing the Other

May. 30 at 4:40am | see this comment in context

Jean-Luc Marion in his masterful essay “Evil in Person” shows how, when we are hurt, we cry out our innocence and don’t realize that we immediately enter into the dynamics of sin ourselves by wanting to retaliate etc. The slave wants to become master himself, and if he has the opportunity will treat others just as cruelly as he was treated, if conversion and grace don’t enter the picture. The pure victim does not let himself be victimized nor does he respond in kind. Only Christ and the saints achieve this.  

Re: Dwarfing the Other

May. 30 at 4:39am | see this comment in context

Excellent points! Either or both of you should write a post on this! I just briefly touch upon this aspect at the end of the piece, when I speak about the victim taking on the perspective of his oppressors and even clinging to them, while Christ does neither during His Passion. So perhaps one could say that, depending on our characters and history, we tend to fall more into one or the other type of sin, either as a master or as a slave. Either we attempt to dwarf the other by mastering him or we try to avoid being hurt by giving in to the other’s attempt to subjugate us (which is an attempt to control him as well, but at the cost of accepting slavery in some respects, for fear of worse treatment). Most of us do both, but one of the two tends to be more our temptation than the other.

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