People see Pope Francis in different ways. For those concerned with climate change, the environment, poverty and justice, he is an astonishing moral force. For those concerned with gay marriage, abortion rights, making women priests, and child-abuse, he is a disappointment. You cannot understand Francis unless you understand his story. That story is best told in Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.
The New York Times called The Great Reformer “the best English-language biography of the pope to date.” Other reviews, including those from the most knowledgeable Catholic reporters, like John Allen at Crux, are equally enthusiastic.
Ivereigh is a British Catholic writer and commentator on religious and political issues. He writes: “This is a story not just of the man but of his three great reforms: of the Argentine Jesuit province, of the Argentine Church, and now of the Universal Church.” Continue reading
Dear New School Friends,
Often I write to you about things that interest me — like my last post on whether beauty will save the world. I rarely write to you about New School conversations. But let’s look at seven recent TNS conversations:
Actor and Zen teacher Peter Coyote talking with Steve Heilig about his new memoir The Rainman’s Third Cure
Food writer Michael Pollan talking about his new research into the healing properties of psychedlics for the dying
Poet Jane Hirschfield talking with Eric Karpeles about her new collections of poetry and prose
Physician Rachel Naomi Remen talking about the discovery model learning
Philosopher Jacob Needleman’s spiritual biopgraphy, of time and the soul
Astrologer Caroline Casey’s equinoctial eclipse persian new year comedic eclipse of Mars and Venus tour
And film-maker Walter’s Murch’s astonishing rediscovery of Bode’s Law — how new evidence confirms and 18th century conjecture on orbital harmonies.
I was writing you a despairing note about the state of the world when I decided to offset the gloom by quoting Dostoevsky’s beautiful line: “Beauty will save the world.”
I Googled the quote to be sure I got it right and found this elegant post: Continue reading
I’ve been looking back on eight years of The New School.
When we started in 2007, I thought we’d mostly tape phone conversations. Then it turned out that people liked to hear the conversations live. At first a dozen or so people would turn up. Over eight years, The New School community has grown…now it is common to have two hundred people or more for one of our larger conversations.
But we don’t judge the quality of the conversation by the size of the audience. Some of our more intellectually challenging events draw small audiences, deeply dedicated people who are intensely interested. Continue reading
These grassroots efforts are like a global immune system in that they are drawn to the wounded places and they begin to work. –Michael Lerner
From Awakin Call Transcript, February 2015, and published June 2 on Daily Good. Read the transcript here or listen to the podcast of this conversation on the Awakin Call page.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
By Atul Gawande, MD
This is a book about the modern experience of mortality— about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t. . . . Lacking a coherent view of how people might live successfully all the way to their very end, we have allowed our fates to be controlled by the imperatives of medicine, technology, and strangers. —Atul Gawande, MD
Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal is essential reading. It is essential for all who are entering older age. For all who are who are facing serious illness. And for all who are nearing the end of life. Continue reading
From The Red Book, Carl Jung
“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world,” Joseph Campbell wrote. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
It is a hard saying, not an easy one. It reflects a great truth passed down for millennia.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, it appears this way:
The acceptance of our suffering as an aid to the growth of awareness, study of great wisdom teachings, and complete surrender to the divine force within each of us — these three things are yoga in practice. [My translation, which others may dispute].
Women Carding, Combing and Weaving Wool (detail). Boccaccio. Le Livre des cléres et nobles femmes. MS Fr. 12420, fol. 71; French 1403. Bibliotèque Nationale, Paris.
If you are in search of some summer reading (or New School podcasts for your walks and drives), here are some suggestions:
- Thomas Picketty, Capital in the 21st Century. Paul Krugman says “the most important economics book of the year—and maybe of the decade. Picketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to “patrimonial capitalism,” in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent. Picketty’s range of reference to literature and social thought makes Capital a pleasure to read.
On a recent trip, I visited a friend and colleague, Michael Samuels, on the island of Tinos in the Greek Mediteranean. Michael’s house is poised for flight—precipitously above a steep, terraced valley flowing down to the blue water. He built the house as a temple: donkeys carried 80 tons of sand and cement down 144 stone stairs to the site. Stones came from the land.
From Michael’s balcony, I counted 13 Venetian dovecotes. Six hundred are scattered around the island of Tinos in 41 villages. Doves are prized for meat, eggs, and fertilizer. Dovecotes must be built near water and cultivated areas—out of the wind so that baby doves can fly. They are works of art, embroidered with stone carvings. Venetians ruled Tinos for five century, from the fall of Constantinople in 1204 until 1715. Ottoman Turks ruled until 1821. Continue reading
Each year I come to Europe for the month of May. Work brings me here. Delight keeps me coming back, as well as curiosity about the human condition. Take personal and social risk tolerances in different cultures as an example. Continue reading