I like this article, which says: mindfulness meditation is good, but we should recognize its limits and the ways both its practice and its practical implications have been wrenched from their religious roots in this latest Western self-help appropriation.
I am not anti-mindfulness meditation, and I love Western appropriations and self-help. But I live much more in the Puritan (also Catholic) self-inventory tradition, partly because Puritanism presumes that there is more to spiritual life than coping and self-improvement, and partly because self-inventory helps me to name things and change them instead of just idly watching them float by. (I recently read a book about being single in your 30s which recommended sitting and watching your loneliness, letting yourself feel it with detachment and then letting it go. This is fine, and it may get you through a bad evening, but it doesn’t thaw your heart or propel you out the door.)
Still, I do pray without sentences as well as with them. I kneel and light candles almost every morning and hold them in my hands and slowly say names. And I notice the difference between days I start that way and days I don’t. And if I say the names of people I’m having trouble with (something I usually make myself do), I am much better at staying hopeful and forgiving, at prying open once again my raspy oystery heart.
Mahalia’s song is a beautiful musical bridge between the two books I’m trying to review: one about how you know God is there. One about the emotional sense of religion.
I love this song and I would say it sums up my faith pretty well, but as it happens I never feel God like this: not like love and pure gold. My God feels more like power, justice, and a billion gallons of brine.
Unlike this reviewer, I don’t think Love Actually is the least romantic film of all time. And even if it were, I love holiday movies that are more or less anti-romantic (see my reviews of It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas In Connecticut). I think that’s why my favorite stories in this film, by far, are Laura Linney’s perverse insistence on aloneness (“Why are all the good guys taken, gay, dead, or hot and available and in my bed?”) and Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman’s strained marriage.
Abilene Cooper, a domestic worker from Jackson, Mississippi, is suing Kathryn Stockett for stealing her story and making millions off it. Abilene’s life, labor, and grief were processed into the syrupy and scatalogical bestseller The Help.
This ugly backstory is reminiscent of but worse than the narrative appropriations made by Harriet Beecher Stowe, because here there is no legitimate political purpose or urgency or common cause to mitigate the theft. The book’s only political goal is to whiten the Civil Rights Movement and to redefine racism as a matter of personal nastiness, not structural oppression.
This review of the Yale Rep Streetcar is about right. It is disconcerting to experience the play as a scream or hoot (or wolf-whistle). Even so, I am really glad to have seen a comedy version— all the “What a dump!” lines were hysterical (in both senses!) and Blanche seemed like a sassy sensible big sister half the time. I love Blanche enough to want to see her strong and sharp, even if it doesn’t make sense. Vivien Leigh is too fragile to be funny, but your heart does break when she shatters.
Werewolf Stanley was not threatening except physically. With Brando you feel the psychological threat posed by super-straight masculinity: the devastating brutality of straightness itself, the damage it does to everyone.
"What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart …"
This weekend I got a shiny new pink phone.
It arrived on Friday,
And I spent most of Friday night and a lot of Saturday holding it
And playing with it
And checking it every few minutes.
God, you take your stand in the council of heaven;
You give judgment in the midst of the gods.
How long will you judge unjustly,
And show favor to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
Defend the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the poor;
Deliver them from the power of the wicked.
Give justice to the children who are born with targets on their backs,