“Intellectual activity nurtures an inner life,” sums up Hitz, “a human core that is a refuge from suffering as much as it is a resource for reflection for its own sake.
There’s a wonderful chapter, called “Days’ Work,” on the drawings of Michelangelo and the Gee’s Bend quilters from rural Alabama, specifically Loretta Pettway who, like Michelangelo, found her work almost unbearably burdensome and did not especially enjoy it. And made quilts that were almost preternaturally beautiful.
The beauty in such strange and singular little clubs, the delight in the face-to-face human encounter, the social aspect, the person-to-person sharing, the fun of the collective search: All this is lost on Madsbjerg.
When I come across someone who is also hungry, searching, and soul-sick, and who also desperately wants to order his or her life to the highest possible plane, I need something way more solid than my own self-styled “spiritual” frolic.
Guinness played a priest in another, lesser-known film, “The Prisoner” (1955).
Adapted from a play by Bridget Boland and directed by Peter Glenville, the film considers such contemporary issues as public shaming, the surveillance state, and anti-Church sentiment.
“[Nineteenth-century Russian novelists] seemed to regard fiction not as something decorative but as a vital moral-ethical tool. They changed you when you read them, made the world seem to be telling a different, more interesting story, a story in which you might play a meaningful part, and in which you had responsibilities.”
“While de Beausobre was engulfed in Stalin’s terror,” Varden writes, “she encountered an old nun who assured her she must one day leave Russia and convey a message to ‘our brethren beyond the border.’