Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Limits of Modern Poetry and the Spiritual Search: On Christian Wiman's My Bright Abyss

America is not a land brimming with prominent Christian spiritual autobiographers. Thomas Merton comes to mind, as does Dorothy Day and, more recently, Kathleen Norris. But we don’t have our Lewis and Chesterton, our Teresa of Avila or Augustine of Hippo. And so it was with great anticipation that I read My Bright Abyss, the much-lauded meditation on faith and suffering by Christian Wiman, former editor of Poetry magazine and one of America’s most respected poets. Published two years ago, Wiman’s book is a collection of his reflections written in the years since his diagnosis with a rare form of cancer, a time period during which Wiman has also returned to Christianity. Critics compared it favorably to A Grief Observed and Seven Storey Mountain, and hailed it as an instant classic.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thoughts on Matthew Crawford's Latest in The New Atlantis

Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, published in 2009 to wide acclaim, made the case for the value of manual labor, for work done by the likes of repairmen, builders, and mechanics. Crawford wrote from a unique position: he holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, and also is a working motorcycle mechanic. In other words, his own experience bridged two distinct worlds, worlds that usually have nothing to say to each other—that of abstract thought and physical work.