Here are some books about the truth that should get you psyched, once again, about how hard it is to live in the truth.
Benedict XVI, Liberating Logos, edited by Marc Guerra. This collection of five Friday talks by our philosopher-pope emeritus is perfect for those suffering from Benedict withdrawal syndrome. We’re reminded with penetrating clarity that the logos that liberates us is irreducibly personal and relational.
The Great Lie, edited by Flagg Taylor. A meticulously edited collection of the various form of “dissident” opposition to the ideological lie that was Communism. Especially relevant is the thought of the courageous literary and philosophical figures Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Vaclav Havel. Not only do they claim that the ideology of one-dimensional consumerism/technologism is almost as great a threat to living in the truth as Communist terror, they add that living well—or with ironic moderation based on voluntary self-limitation—with the gift of technology is the hugely intricate challenge to free will in our time.
Arthur Melzer, Philosophy Between the Lines. This book proves that philosophers (and many theologians and poets) wrote esoterically. The surface of their work supported conventional prejudices, but their deeper teaching, a meaning that had to be discovered with considerable intellectual effort, was full of liberating countercultural contradictions. The big question Melzer raises is whether the time of esoteric writing is over.
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos. This “last self-help book” reminds us that most of what we sometimes call evil about our restless life in the midst of prosperity is better called clueless or loony. We should laugh more and judge less. It is an antidote for all the doomers and gloomers, like the Benedict Option folks on the culture or Pope Francis on that changing climate. We may end up living in the ruins, but the ruins are far from free of loneliness and love—and all of the singular longings and perversities that characterize the life of the only real aliens in the cosmos.
Peter Augustine Lawler, Allergic to Crazy. What competent list is free from shameless self-promotion? This is my wit and wisdom—my dissident activity—in bite-sized pieces. Perfect for reading in the bathroom or at stoplights.
Peter Augustine Lawler, a member of our editorial board, is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. You can find his articles for Ethika Politika here.