Monthly Archives: June 2013

Tenderness without the source of tenderness

Flannery O’Connor, from her introduction to A Memoir of Mary Ann; also published in Robert & Sally Fitzgerald’s collection of her prose, Mystery and Manners.

One of the tendencies of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited His goodness, you are done with Him. The Aylmers whom Hawthorne saw as a menace have multiplied. Busy cutting down human imperfection, they are making headway also on the raw material of the good. Ivan Karamozov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus’ hero cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of the massacre of the innocents. In this popular pity, we mark our gain in sensibility and our loss in vision. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.

Neil Peart’s books

Skipping all the books I read and didn’t blog about…

Last week I finished two of Neil Peart’s books: Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road and Traveling Music: Playing Back the Soundtrack to My Life and Times.  Read ’em one after the other, and they’re good.  He’s an entertaining prose writer and one of the best travel writers I’ve read.  You can read about his more recent travels at his “slow blog” News, Weather and Sports (I hope that’s a permanent url).

Aside from the travel writing, he’s developed a language to describe the inner workings of the human soul. I need to go back through these books sometime to copy those parts, since I have great trouble translating all that internal stuff into words.  He and I share some internal weirdnesses, too, and it was a bit of a relief to read someone who can identify and describe them.  He does it in an easy offhand way with the ideal words and insights to capture their feel and taste.

One caveat for us Catlickers: he’s a devout and militant atheist.  You’ll roll your eyes once in a while.