Archive for April 2014

Three quotes on boredom

April 27th, 2014 — 9:12pm

1. Boredom is the self being stuffed with itself. . . .

2. Why is it no other species but man gets bored? Under the circumstances in which a man gets bored, a dog goes to sleep.

3. Thought Experiment: Imagine that you are a member of a tour visiting Greece. The group goes to the Parthenon. It is a bore. Few people even bother to look – it looked better in the brochure. So people take half a look, mostly take pictures, remark on the serious erosion by acid rain. You are puzzled. Why should one of the glories and fonts of Western civilization, viewed under pleasant conditions – good weather, good hotel room, good food, good guide – be a bore?

Now imagine under what set of circumstances a viewing of the Parthenon would not be a bore. For example, you are a NATO colonel defending Greece against a Soviet assault. You are in a bunker in downtown Athens, binoculars propped on sandbags. It is dawn. A medium-range missile attack is under way. Half a million Greeks are dead. Two missiles bracket the Parthenon. The next will surely be a hit. Between columns of smoke, a ray of golden light catches the portico.

Are you bored? Can you see the Parthenon?


(Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, pp. 71–72)

Comment » | From the Dead Thinkers

Coherent community

April 27th, 2014 — 9:05pm

A coherent community . . . is . . . the means of unifying and making politically effective our now disparate efforts to save the good things: The members of a community cohere on the basis of their recognized need for one another, a need that is in many ways practical but never utilitarian. The members of a coherent community, moreover, keep the good things they have because of a recognized need for them, a need sufficiently practical but never utilitarian.

If it is to cohere, a community cannot agree to the loss of any of its members, or the disemployment of any of its members, as an acceptable cost of an economic program. If it is to cohere, a community must remember its history and its obligations; it is therefore irreconcilably opposed to ‘mobility’ as a social norm. Persons, places, and things have a practical value, but they are not reducible to such value; they are not interchangeable. That is why we outlawed slavery. That is why a house for sale is not a home. (Wendell Berry, “The Purpose of a Coherent Community,” in The Way of Ignorance: And Other Essays)

Comment » | Life Together

From commentaries to diaries

April 3rd, 2014 — 8:06am

The greatest documents of the Reformation are its biblical commentaries; the greatest documents of seventeenth-century Christianity are its diaries and spiritual biographies. Theologically considered, this is not an improvement. At worst, “Christ” risks becoming the name of an event in their lives. (William C. Placher, The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong, p. 92)

Comment » | Biblical Authority

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