Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Attention Span

Monday, August 26th, 2019

Social commentators often note the short attention span of the public today. Only a few weeks ago, the media was filled with agonizing reports about two mass shootings, and there were countless calls for gun control. Today, you hear little about the subject, and we can expect little public comment until the next shooting. (Although we should note that the police have apparently managed to stop some recent incidents through good detective work.)

Major climate change reports appear periodically–only to disappear quickly from the public eye when some other newsworthy item arises.

The 20th Century French mystic Simone Weil often wrote of the need for “attention.” Like one’s focus on a piece of art, human beings need to learn to overcome distractions and concentrate on one thing at a time. Specifically, we need to pay attention to the divine. Weil saw this as part of the larger mystical project of “waiting on God.”

As far as media news is concerned, we might profit from devoting our attention to the deep issues beyond the headlines. To violence. To the condition of God’s world. To God. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


No Sympathy for the Devil

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Last week, I was extremely fortunate to be given tickets to the performance of the Rolling Stones in the Meadowlands. For someone like me who is of their generation, there is no better rock and roll band on the planet–and no greater performer than Mick Jagger.

It was interesting for me to recall, as I watched the four old men play their countless hits, how menacing the Stones were when they first appeared in the 1960’s. With their “sympathy for the Devil,” they seemed to threaten the very foundations of civil society. Now they seem almost warm and fuzzy.

The Devil however, as Scripture reminds us, remains alive and active. As demonstrated in the horrendous mass shootings of the past week, the Demonic in the form of young white males is very much with us. God help us all.–J. Douglas Ousley


Novel Ideas

Friday, July 8th, 2016

I love to read novels–so much that I confine my reading to my Thursday day-off and summer vacations. The rest of the time, professional reading has a priority.

Happily, a recent vacation gave me time to enjoy great fiction, including vintage a Mickey Spillane tough-guy detective story, Dressed to Kill, and a new thriller by Lisa Lutz, The Passenger. I grant that such works are certainly “escapist”–with exciting, impossible coincidences and superhuman talents. But these works do challenge our imaginations. The Passenger, for example raises fascinating questions about guilt and innocence–topics not uninteresting to the Christian.

Like films, novels challenge the imagination, and in so doing, challenge the soul. —J. Douglas Ousley