Read Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris Free Online
Book Title: Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life|
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Reader ratings: 3.6
The author of the book: Kathleen Norris
Edition: Penguin Audio
Date of issue: September 16th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780143143710
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.99 MB
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Since so many people are reading this now I thought I would pull my old blog reviews out of storage and place it here.
Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life
Dante's Inferno Canto 7
Once we were grim
And sullen in the sweet air above, that took
A further gladness from the play of the sun;
Inside us, we bore acedia's dismal smoke.
We have this black mire now to be sullen in.
I have never read Kathleen Norris before and I am pretty sure I would not have enjoyed reading her in the past but people change and circumstances change and I found myself very much needing this book and very happy that I providentially picked it up while browsing the shelves at the library.
The subtitle of the book is A Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life, which makes this book a memoir but also a description of a little acknowledged sin.
Acedie could be called the absence of caring that might come on the heels of great personal changes. Norris says, "But the word transition cannot convey my struggle with the rigors of grief, a residual exhaustion from years of steadily increasing adversity, and the promptings of acedia to respond to all of this by not caring."
In spite of our very different lives, Kathleen and I seem to share a temperament. She finds solace in metaphor and the Psalms just like me. Perhaps acedie is the unique sin of the overly passionate. I cannot help but think of the line from Yeats "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Acedie is where passion meets no conviction at all, a thunderstorm of faith.
I have faced this malady several times in my own life. The first time it took me quite by surprise. After facing melanoma with surprising faith and hope, I spent the year after the battle feeling as if nothing mattered at all. My own cure came from the parable of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew. Acedie is the buried talent, a sort of hyper-Calvinism. Since I know God is big and I am small what's the use of trying. If this sounds a bit ridiculous to you, then you probably will not enjoy Kathleen's book.
My second bout with this sin was when my oldest son joined the Navy. I had spent 19 years raising him with passion and purpose never once seeing the Navy as the end goal. The fact that I was not in control of the outcome of my children's lives was a revelation and a serious setback in my own passion and purposefulness. I think homeschooling moms are generally full of passionate conviction which may make them vulnerable to the sin of acedie.
Over the course of the last year and a half, acedie has loomed large in my life. While my faith in Christ has never wavered my understanding of the church and tradition has suffered. I have felt the sting of realizing that Christians talk too much and do too much and care too little. This has left me teetering on the edge of bitterness. And for someone who already knows all the 'right' answers that is a dangerous place. Acedia and Me has been a foothold on my way back to normalcy.
Physically the breakdown in my immune system has caused me to get mono, a disease that has a unique effect on the spleen. It is interesting to note that the spleen is metaphorically the 'get up and go' of the body. Acedie is the breakdown of the spiritual spleen.
Since we are living in tough times, I am guessing that many of you may be rethinking much of what you have always believed in the face of unexpected circumstances. This book may be the spiritual encouragement you need to face the trials that God has set before you.
As I was standing on the side of a hot Tennessee highway last week, two hours from home, with a flat tire and a broken jack, and 2 scared little boys, for a brief second I thought, "This is the last straw, the tiny thing that breaks me," and then I thought of the Proverb that says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, how small is your strength." Well, my strength is incredibly small but the strength available to me in Christ is without measure and there it was growing in my heart on the side of the road. So we just got into the car, prayed and sat and waited and a TN State trooper drove up and showed us how to fix the jack and a few minutes later we were on the road again. And then we got a good meal at a sit down restaurant and then we were safely home.
Post 2 Quotes
Chapter XV in Kathleen Norris's Acedia and Me is a list of commonplace book quotes that Kathleen has collected her whole life.
Kathleen quotes such wide-ranging books as Pierre by Maurice Sendak and even our old friend Leisure: The Basis of Culture.
Here are a few of the quotes that I found most helpful:
GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy "Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening "do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them."
Possibly Paul Tillich "Boredom is rage spread thin."
Fernando Pessoa "Tedium is not the disease o f being bored because there is nothing to do, but the more serious disease of feeling that there's nothing worth doing."
Ian Fleming, From Russia with Love "Just as, at least in one religion, accidie is the first of the cardinal sins, so boredom, and particularly the incredible circumstance of waking up bored, was the only vice Bond utterly condemned."
Claude J Peiffer, OSB Monastic Spirituality "Acedia is a formidable adversary because on purely natural grounds its arguments are unassailable."
Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga "The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less."
Thomas L Friedman in Singapore and Katrina quoting Janadas Devan of Straits Times "It is not only government that doesn't show up when it is starved of resources and leached of all its meaning. Community doesn't show up either, sacrifice doesn't show up, pulling together doesn't show up, 'we're all in this together' doesn't show up."
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Read information about the authorKathleen Norris was born on July 27, 1947 in Washington, D.C. She grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Lemmon, South Dakota.
Her sheltered upbringing left her unprepared for the world she encountered when she began attending Bennington College in Vermont. At first shocked by the unconventionality surrounding her, Norris took refuge in poetry.
After she graduated in 1969, she moved to New York City where she joined the arts scene, associated with members of the avant-garde movement including Andy Warhol, and worked for the American Academy of Poets.
In 1974, her grandmother died leaving Norris the family farm in South Dakota, and she and her future husband, the poet David Dwyer, decided to temporarily relocate there until arrangements to rent or sell the property could be made. Instead, they ended up remaining in South Dakota for the next 25 years.
Soon after moving to the rural prairie, Norris developed a relationship with the nearby Benedictine abbey, which led to her eventually becoming an oblate.
In 2000, Norris and her husband traded their farmhouse on the Great Plains for a condo in Honolulu, Hawaii, so that Norris could help care for her aging parents after her husband’s own failing health no longer permitted him to travel. Her father died in 2002, and her husband died the following year in 2003.
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