Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

In Abandonment to Divine Providence, 17th-century Jesuit priestJean-Pierre de Caussade observed:

“Since the world began, its history is nothing but the account of the campaign waged by the powers of the world and the princes of hell against the humble souls who love God. It is a conflict in which all the odds seem to favor pride, yet humility always wins…

The war which broke out in heaven between St. Michael and Lucifer is still being fought…Every wicked man since Cain, up until those who now consume the world, have outwardly appeared to be great and powerful princes. They have astonished the world and men have bowed down before them. But the face they present to the world is false…

All ancient history, both sacred and profane, is only the record of this conflict. The order established by God has always conquered, and those who have fought with him enjoy eternal happiness….If one solitary soul has all the powers of hell and the world against it, it need fear nothing if it has abandoned itself to the order of God.”

I thought of that passage as I read The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, a newly-published 727-page tome by public intellectual and cultural critic Louis Menand.


4 Replies to “THE FREE WORLD”

  1. Ruth Ann Pilney says: Reply

    I read the entire article. It’s beautiful! That one beautiful soul doing such good. So honest. So humble.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you so much, Ruth! Yes, the sort of creative non-violence in our human interactions…so easy to admire, so hard to achieve! I, too, admire my friend…Advent and Christas blessings to you in your beautiful part of the world.

  2. Sonja Maierhauser says: Reply

    Dear Heather, I thought of this essay all weekend. The omission of great Catholic leaders, artists, scientists is Grand Canyon sized, and yet doesn’t that yawning canyon also explain (to you and I) the 20th century so aptly? Somehow there is that sense that all that matters is what I see, not the God who made this all.
    And your comment that, perhaps to the author’s mind, Catholics are not really free, is so true. The definition of freedom really is different.
    I love how you juxtaposed that with the account of your friend in the woke classroom. She has it exactly right when she said that no disagreement is as important as the very fact of their existence. Being is more important than agreeing; loving more important than disagreeing.
    And then to top it all off, her statement, “my life is interiorly ordered.” Unlike the best of the 20th century. BOOM!
    This is my first time writing to you, Heather, but I have been a secret admirer for many years. I found you first in the Magnificat, then read Parched this year and found your exceptional blog. Thank you for writing what so many of us cannot put in words.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I know, Sonja–“my life is interiorly ordered.” As you say, BOOM! Those five words said more to me than Menand’s whole long book…It baffles me that the greatest contemporary thinkers never seem to wonder why history continually repeats itself–the victims overthrown the oppressors, then become oppressors themselves, ad infinitum–never seem to examine their own consciences and wonder whether the problem could be within, (each of us, obviously). Never seem to wonder what moves them, drives them, makes them weep. Never seem able to acknowledge the martyrs and saints who manage to break out of the pattern…It’s all about power, influence, prestige–which gets pretty boring pretty fast…Anyway, I’m so glad you weighed in and so glad to have had you as a reader all these years–thank you and welcome!