The freedom of priorities revisited again

11 March 2018: So, I just finished reading Anna Karenina, and near the end someone quotes Matthew 10 “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” which is the passage that most disturbed Levin in the Gospels. The clarity and utter refreshment that he feels in his conversion at the end of the story isn’t shaken by this political discussion about war. It is that freedom of priorities Varenka shows Kitty in the heart of the story. I am reminded that Jesus also called us to love our enemies, and that sword is the sword to cut off your hand if it causes you to sin- to cut away the things that evil tempts you to think are between you and God, or to cut away the false gods that seize you and make you feel stuck, preventing you from being with Him. It’s the love that cuts off those chains and frees the sinner. Like one of my English professors pointed out when we were talking about the Faerie Queen: it’s the reverse order of the French lyrics to O Canada- ‘your arm knows how to carry the cross [and that’s why] your arm knows how to wield the sword.’ I should add it’s regrettable Spenser wasn’t as virtuous in his views of the Irish, though.

The original musing before the new year: I wrote about the freedom you feel when, like Kitty in Anna Karenina, you find what’s most important- what you would give everything for- and how that gets everything in line and gets you moving again. When you find that out, you can easily give up most things and you can have the courage to give up harder things when called upon. I think of the story of Aron Ralston in the movie 127 hours: that’s an intense physical version of what you would sacrifice to be able to move again and live! Here’s hoping that everyone finds what is most important in 2019!

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What many critics misunderstand about nostalgia

The critics are legion who maintain that nostalgia is a naive ideal, a dream of something that never existed that way- that the past is a different place where we don’t really have access. They’re right in their superficial criticism of nostalgia as simple kitsch. What so many of them miss in their disdain for nostalgia, though, is that that yearning to recover something lost is all the personal and interconnected lines in the imagination mixed with the redeeming memory of something universal- it’s a timeless refraction of the light charging our lives.