The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice


Sunday, February 19, 2012  

Ash Wednesday

My column for The Daily is up:

Not that long ago, contemplating mortality and feeling contrition for grave failings were considered noble pursuits. They were the themes of great literature and popular music alike. In our culture we have come, more often, to view these same experiences as neuroses. Grief is edging closer to being defined as a species of depression. Anxiety over the inevitability of death has become something to be resolved through a process ending in “acceptance,” as though being sundered from everyone and everything one loves is the sort of thing one can become good at.

Guilt fares no better. “In centuries past, people built moral systems” that “emphasized our sinfulness,” the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote last year in reaction to what he called the “vanity” of commentators who imagined their own courageous responses to the alleged crimes at Penn State. Today, however, “we live in a society oriented around our inner wonderfulness.” To say, with the psalmist, “my sin is ever before me” is to risk being labeled obsessive.

More on these themes later. For now, read the whole thing, as they say.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 11:11 PM
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