An Unhappy Age
Philosopher Charles Taylor has named our era A Secular Age, the title of his book that, according to many, like Robert Bellah (one of the greatest sociologists of our times), is “one of the most important books to be written in my lifetime.” No small praise.
Not all is happy in this era:
Such is the theme of Calasso’s latest book, The Unnameable Present, and the book’s review by Jay Tolson, editor of The Hedgehog Review. Lots of food for thought from the review and this distinguished Italian intellectual, who, I must admit, I had not heard of before reading this review.
Speaking of unhappiness:
In her new book, Sweet Distress, the teacher and therapist Gillian Bridge says that allowing children to wallow in their emotions is akin to giving them sugary treats: it makes them feel better in the short term, but it’s bad for long-term mental health. She argues that instead of teaching pupils introspection, they should be given a sense of being part of history, to be taken outside of themselves.
As the subtitle of the review puts it, “Today’s overly emotional young people should read some Schopenhauer,” who argued that the way to find happiness is to not seek it. Makes one think of The Beatitudes.
Happiness, or lack thereof, seems to be the theme of the day. Daniel Markovits, author of The Meritocracy Trap, summarizes the book’s argument in his The Atlantic essay, “How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition.” He shows how so much of modern life plays by the rules of meritocracy, and how it makes the lives of many, including the winners, more miserable.
Be Still Our Souls
One response to all the confusion and noise of our age is the classic call to silence:
So writes O. David Taylor in “Make a Joyful Silence Unto the Lord.” This has been key to my mental and spiritual health, to be sure.
Traffic: The Conundrum
Last week I featured a video that looked at the most efficient way for passengers to board a jet liner. The week, it’s about “The Simple Solution to Traffic.” Naturally, what is “simple” and “optimum” is not necessarily what people are willing to make changes to make happen. At any rate, it helped me see why traffic slows down on “free” ways even when there seems to be no logical explanation for it.
Grace and peace,
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today