Depth in the Shallows

Month: January, 2017

The Light Of Day

A Beacon For The Dark Night Of The Soul

The Life And Writings Of Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a journalist, activist, Catholic convert, and co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. She was devout in faith, radical in politics, and unwavering in charity. At one time or another she was a communist, anarchist, distributist, and syndicalist. A spiritual searcher since youth, Day read and talked and prayed her way into the Catholic Church. Committed to helping the poor, marginalized, and downtrodden, Day took action. No act of love was too small, and no one in need was unworthy. Day, however, did not wish to be called a saint. An anecdote about Dorothy Day has her saying that calling her a saint would be to dismiss her too easily.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy Day so much. She defied categorization. She refused to be minimized by a label. In our age of identity politics and professional victimhood, Day is a welcome tonic. She refused to be defined except by Love. We can roll our eyes at her political passion, or disregard her economic idealism, but doing so misses the point. Day always sought the Truth in Love. She gave all she had to help others. She was a believer in the little way, bookended perhaps by St. Therese of Lisieux and Mother Teresa. Day fed the hungry at her front door, clothed the naked, and gave shelter to the homeless. She did what she could, with what she had, where she was. That is something all of us can do.

“Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”


An Inkling Of Something Deeper

More Than A Friend Of Friends

Night Operation by Owen Barfield 

Owen Barfield (1898-1997) was a British lawyer, philosopher, poet, novelist and thinker who, if remembered at all, is usually remembered for his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and his membership in their literary group, The Inklings. But, Barfield demands his own following. Not known for enduring blockbusters like The Lord of The Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, Barfield nevertheless offers us a challenging examination of many of our cultural, literary, and philosophical assumptions that persist today.

In this book, Barfield’s only foray into science fiction, Barfield depicts a civilization gone underground. Quite literally, a society in the gutter. Rampant fear of terrorist attacks, obsession with security, and a hollowed out humanity are pervasive themes. Still relevant today, Barfield’s book ranks with 1984, Brave New World, We, and Darkness at Noon. Skip The Hunger Games. Read Night Operation. It will change the way you watch the news and engage social media. Then ask yourself, are you living or are you just crisis hopping?

“When the velocity of progress increases beyond a certain point, it becomes indistinguishable from crisis.”

You Schall Not Pass!

Unless You Read James V. Schall

On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing by James V. Schall

I first encountered the inimitable Father James V. Schall, S.J. in a wee little book called A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning. It is a walk through the greatest books and thinkers with a brilliant and generous guide. Schall is a teacher and reader par excellence. He wants us to read, as he has done, the greatest minds and the greatest books not to be liberal in a political sense, but in the human sense. To be liberal is to broaden one’s humanity beyond the skull size kingdom (as David Foster Wallace called it) we live in. To get outside of ourselves that we may become more fully human. Schall knows that thinking, reading, writing, and other forms of communicative expression give life great meaning and enjoyment. That without them, and without the higher things they strive to impart, we are left with a dark, dark, world.

We have only to look around and see those trapped in the “everything is relative, I’m a victim, and the government isn’t doing enough for me” mentality and know this is true. It is not a political problem. It is one that rests within each of us. Do we want the best? Or do we just want to be comfortable with the least?

Read Schall and you will be driven to know the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

“No one will seek the highest [things] if he believes that there is no truth, that nothing is his fault, and that government will guarantee his wants.”

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