Marie Meaney

Joined: Nov. 22, 2011


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)

What Midlife Crisis is Really About

Sep. 3 at 12:54pm | Comments: 5 | Most recent comment: Sep. 4 at 10:26am

The Marshallin in Richard Strauss’ wonderful opera “Der Rosenkavalier” sings a beautiful aria about time and what it is like to get older. “Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbares Ding”, “Time is a strange thing” she sings in elegiac tones, bemoaning the fact that she is no longer young, and that the young man with whom she is having an affair will not be hers forever. She sends him away before he has...

Heavenly Arithmetic and Supernatural Paradoxes

Aug. 14 at 10:36am | Comments: 0

Christ’s reasoning is shocking sometimes, nay seems downright unjust. To the one who has, more shall be given and from the one who has little, what he has will be taken. This seems like cut-throat capitalism. Then again, Jesus seems to go against justice in order to err on the side of mercy, when he tells the workers of the last hour that they will receive as much as those who have labored all day long. He shuts...

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...

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

Re: One of love's opposites: Contempt

Nov. 10 at 5:07am | see this comment in context

Excellent piece, Katie! I find it interesting that you haven't encountered scorn that much in Europe (France comes to mind, though there's it's perhaps more a cutting irony -which is at its core also a form of contempt). Every country has its virtues and vices, and some vices are worse than others. But I'd have to search far and wide here in Europe to find the kind of warmth and kindness one encounters in the Southern States (don't know the Midwestern ones).

Alice Miller's take is very interesting. I'm working on totalitarian evil from the perspectives of Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt. Looking at the spiritual roots like Weil does (seeing in ideology a form of idolatry) would therefore not be enough, but one would need to take into consideration the wounds making us more likely to fall for this kind of evil. So I take it you highly recommend Miller's book?

Re: Truth and mercy in human experience

Sep. 11 at 5:55am | see this comment in context

"I am seeing more and more how the human idea of mercy is protection from truth. True mercy [divine mercy] is an encounter with Truth—which is extremely painful."

That is very well put, Katie. it is an excellent point as well, that this is what purgatory is about. The truths about ourselves regarding our sins and weaknesses, the sufferings we were trying to escape by running away from these truths, will become our purification in the afterlife. We will have to face up to them and see them for what they are. The idols we failed to give up will have to be burnt away from us, and this will be painful.The difficulty there, of course, is that we can't take a break from this purification, which is something we can do here (and often do to the point of trying to run away from it completely).

Re: What Midlife Crisis is Really About

Sep. 4 at 8:27am | see this comment in context

Thanks, Kate and Katie! You are right, Katie. One doesn't even realize that one is "unreal and earthbound", before one is being stripped. One thinks that a general wanting to do God's will and be holy (and even working hard at it) is enough to make this happen; but it isn't. Suffering has a way of anchoring one in reality that is hard to achieve otherwise. To quote approximately one of my favorite philosophers, Simone Weil: we live in a dream-world, lying to ourselves about our past, present and future; only great affliction, the close-encounter with extreme evil or sanctity pull one out of it.The question remains then whether we follow up on this or try to blend it out again by diverting ourselves. If one does not embrace the cross, then addictions appear or become stronger, and one easily becomes cynical and bitter. 

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.

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