Friday, July 17, 2015

1929: Not So Far From the Madding Fall

For All The King's Horses and
For All The King's Men...a
by W.H. Auden

Sir, no man's enemy, forgiving all
But will his negative inversion, be prodigal: 
Send to us power and light, a sovereign touch 
Curing the intolerable neural itch, 
The exhaustion of weaning, the liar's quinsy, 
And the distortions of ingrown virginity. 
Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response 
And gradually correct the coward's stance; 
Cover in time with beams those in retreat 
That, spotted, they turn though the reverse were great; 
Publish each healer that in city lives 
Or country houses at the end of drives; 
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of architecture, a change of heart.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?

Peter L. Berger is a professor emeritus of sociology at Boston University. His most recent book is The Many Altars of Modernity: Towards a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age.

In his review of The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions, by Michael Walzer, he illustrates a point about the difficulty of cutting the ties that bind us to our traditional modes of being and believing. Berger happily notes:

"Rarely does a joke reveal a social and religious reality as sharply as this Israeli one: A woman and her young son are riding on a bus speaking Yiddish sometime in the 1950s. A staunch Labor Zionist fellow-passenger is annoyed and scolds her: "You are in Israel now, not in the diaspora. Why don't you speak Hebrew with your son?" To which she replies: "So that he won't forget that he is a Jew."