If Jonah Lehrer’s new book, A Book About Love, is any indication, true love is less about roses and romantic dinners and gazing into another’s eyes than it is about getting the chores done, showing up when you said you would, and learning to set aside your wants and finding pleasure in your partner’s wants. In the end, steadiness is what will carry the day, says Lehrer, keeping a relationship vital and bringing joy and satisfaction.
At first glance, Lehrer’s premise may sound good. But New York Times columnist David Brooks disagrees. In his review of Lehrer’s book, Brooks writes: “It could be the truth is actually just the opposite,” that “crazy” love rather than “steady” love will, in the end, carry the day. Continue reading →
Of the many stories of horror, cruelty, and courage to reach us from the Shoah, one in particular, witnessed by the Nobel-Laureate Elie Wiesel at Auschwitz, is especially poignant. It involves the summary execution of a young boy at the notorious death camp. The boy had been caught by a death-camp guard in some minor infraction of camp discipline. After questioning the child to determine his alleged “guilt,” the commandant decided to make an example of the boy to his fellow prisoners. So, he ordered the whole camp to assemble at dawn the next morning to witness the boy’s execution. When the prisoners had been herded into the freezing, snowy yard of the camp, the frightened child was dragged before them, stripped of his clothing, and hung from a makeshift gallows as the entire prisoner population watched in helpless horror. The camp guard who had caught the boy in his petty infraction then turned to a rabbi-prisoner and asked in a sneering voice, “So, rabbi, where is your God now?” The rabbi looked his tormentor in the eye and calmly pointed to the twisting body of the hanging child. “There he is,” the rabbi said, “hanging from your gallows.” Continue reading →
In the past year the Islamic State and its affiliates have opened our eyes to our capacity to commit cruelty to other human beings. Or, rather, ISIS has reminded us of our capacity for cruelty. I think we’ve known all along how inhuman we “humans” can be. The Passion Gospel we have just heard reminds us that human cruelty is nothing new, that we’ve known all along of our ability to do things cruel and brutal.
We might think that the news has desensitized us to the shock of the Passion Gospel. But I have a hunch that your reaction to it is similar to mine: as much as I have heard the Passion Gospel before, and as much as I read the news, hearing the Passion Gospel just now I’m feeling angry, dismayed, sad, helpless and confused. Continue reading →
I think we all know what’s coming. I think we know what Jesus means when he says in today’s Gospel lesson, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I think we know, too, what the author of the letter to the Hebrews means when he says that Jesus is a high priest who “suffered” and was “made perfect.” I think we all know that next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the week following is Holy Week. I think we all know what’s coming; we all know that Jesus’ Passion and death are just around the corner.
If I’m not mistaken, there seems to be a certain giddiness in today’s readings. Notice, for example, the triumphant tone in the letter to the Hebrews: Jesus has “been made perfect,” and has “been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” Notice how in John Jesus bravely and serenely predicts the manner of his death: “I, when I am raised up, will draw all people to myself.” And notice how Jeremiah excitedly speaks of a new and better covenant known by all: “I will write it on their hearts… and they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Continue reading →