Tag Archives: materialism

Black Friday: Don’t Just Shop

Black Friday’s shopping frenzy can prompt us to forget the spiritual origins of gift-giving. Leslie Marmon Silko helps us see beyond the glitter.

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Does Moby Dick Await Us?

Is America headed for the same fate as the Pequod?

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Marilyn Monroe Died for Our Sins

Ernesto Cardenal poem “Prayer for Marilyn Monroe” sees the actress sacrificed on the altar of our own longings.

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A Biological Explanation for Literature

At one point, the protagonist of The Elegance of the Hedgehog tackles this blog’s central question: “Of what use is literature?” Renee is a materialist who doesn’t believe in a transcendent reality. For her, literature (and art in general) is a sophisticated biological survival mechanism.

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Hell, an Inner Emptiness that Can’t Be Filled

“I think Hell is a fable,” Doctor Faustus tells Mephastophilis at one point in Marlowe’s 1593 tragedy. While many Elizabethans would have disagreed—the play terrified them precisely because they believed in a literal hell—we’re more sympathetic with the notion now. To most of us, fire and brimstone and devils with pitchforks are the stuff of […]

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Rising Again to Dance

Chidi Okoye (Nigeria)  Spiritual Sunday I refute Berkeley thus, Samuel Johnson famously said. And kicked a rock. Bishop Berkeley was the 18th century idealist philosopher who asked how we know reality is really there if we are dependent upon our senses for perceiving it. Is the rock in existence when we turn our backs? Johnson’s […]

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Playing Cards in Rape of the Lock

The rules for ombre and how the hands are played in “Rape of the Lock.” Altogether brilliant.

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Obama as Wycherley’s Country Wife

As I teach William Wycherley’s The Country Wife, I am struck by the resemblances between Restoration society and our own.The play was written in 1676 during the age of Charles II, and in some ways our worlds couldn’t be more dissimilar.This was a monarchy and a very formal society in which sincerity was viewed with […]

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Empty Sex in an Empty World

John Wilmot, by Jacob Huysmans (1675) I’m have just finished teaching Lord Rochester and, as always, it has been an adventure.   I sometimes think I get more embarrassed than the students by his explicit sexual language.   My women students (they’re all women in this class) are more tolerant of his diatribes against their gender than I […]

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