25 March 2014

The Gilmore Challenge

I can't say I entirely agree with all of Rory's tastes, but it's hard not to be delighted that Australian writer Patrick Lenton has compiled a comprehensive list of every book mentioned in the series run of Gilmore Girls. Over seven seasons, the total is over 300. That averages to about 49 books per year, or roughly one per week. Life of Johnson certainly isn't helping me keep pace! Quality over quantity.

17 March 2014

Worth A Thousand Words: Writing & Collages

'A Pound of Flesh, Or An Eye for An Eye': At the Crossroads of Empathy and Forgiveness

Hard times in the Chateu D'If
As I go through the routines of my dad-to-day, it's hard not to notice that so much of the world seems constantly in the throes of 'getting what is owed to them.' Hardly a day goes by without something I read or real events pressing onward with the seemingly universal desire revenge or some kind of material justice. This most recently struck at me deeply several months ago, while the violence was escalating in Syria, particularly the church bombings, and news broke that a serious wave of new sexual abuse allegations was being leveled at my home archdiocese. One of those intersections of daily events that make me acutely aware of our human fragility, pain, and division.

Societal reaction to the priestly abuse scandals is emblematic of the strange concept of justice that we've come to expect in our modern world. Many allegations have be made over the past decade with financially and legally exploitative motivations, some of them truthful. But in most cases we hear over and over again how victims want not only emotional and spiritual healing, but also financial restitution. The mystery of how we expect large sums of money to heal such rifts is a topic for another post, another day, but it's certainly not reserved for clergy sexual abuse. Divorce? My ex has to pay. College degree didn't get me a job? My school has to pay. Short-changed childhood experience? Parents have to pay. Bakery won't make a cake for my wedding? The owners have to pay. The litigiousness is astonishing, especially here in the U.S., where "fighting for what you deserve" seems to reach new levels of ridiculousness every day.

It's even more ridiculous given that 'tolerance' has become the new global mantra. Here's the world, beating it into us that 'live and let live' is the only noble way to engage with society and build peace, while simultaneously demanding an eye-for-an-eye at the turn of every petty (and not-so-petty) disappointment. Strangely Old Testament for a world that seeks to free us from ancient oppressive moral codes.

As I read and thought over the past several months, I have chewed on this topic often. Why are we always at odds with each other? Why are we never satisfied? The human urge for revenge is certainly not reserved to the modern world-some of the greatest stories ever written have revenge at their very core (Hamlet, Coriolanus, and The Count of Monte Cristo among them). But the modern kind seems to be particularly insatiable. The strange realities of our world's sense of 'practical justice' seems to dovetail with something else often present in my intellectual cud-our similarly distorted understanding of forgiveness.

Bookish Art

Catherine Alexandre, The books are in search of readers