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Showing posts from June, 2014

The Problem of Pain, How Human Suffering Raises Almost Intolerable Intellectual Problems, by C. S. Lewis (published 1940)

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As I've mentioned elsewhere, many years ago I was a self-professed atheist. Yet I considered myself open to opposing views. It was in this spirit of open mindedness I accepted a short work a friend and mentor loaned me called Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Directed to skeptics who seek intellectual reasons for faith, it forced me to question my disbelief. It would be another decade before I squashed my pride, confronted its truth, and converted. (Guess I wasn't so open minded after all.) But that's another story that deals more with the heart than with the head.
I'm convinced that Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity contributed to his insight and argumentative powers. Such converts, whether it's the great economist Thomas Sowell (having first been a Marxist before embracing capitalism), tend to speak and write with more authority than those who carry the same political or religious views from cradle to coffin.
I'm not suggesting converts ipso …

Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

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We've all known our share of walking rain clouds. Happily for me, those relations never lasted. Sure, I'll be the first to acknowledge the world is full of cruelty and corruption, but I'd rather celebrate the good than bemoan the bad. To fixate on the tragic, or worse, to claim only the brutal and the vulgar constitute all there is to life, is not only shortsighted but makes for a grim personality, not to mention a depressing read.
First published in Paris in 1934 and subsequently banned in the U.S. until 1961, Tropic of Cancer charts Miller's experiences among the French bohemians during the early '30s. Full disclosure, I served in the U.S. NAVY. I've seen it all. Hell, I've done more than I'd confess to in mixed company. Still, Miller's attitudes and indulgences easily exceed my humble excesses. Such lapses in judgment were the stage dressings of my experience, not the main attraction. For Miller, it's the other way round. His chronicling of co…