A Few things
Watched Babette’s Feast not too long ago. This is a beautiful, gloriously understated celebration of the good life, the good life of self sacrifice, following Jesus, loving our neighbors, and good food. Watch it in English. Then watch it again with English subtitles so you can understand the words of the songs. It’s originally in some Scandinavian tongue. Do it.
I read 1984 by George Orwell this week. This classic little horror story tells the tale of futile passion, a scraping for life and beauty, damned and eclipsed by the all knowing, all powerful society of Big Brother. While the novel is not happy or cheery in any meaningful way, Orwell writes with a driving fascination, a hopeless desperation that is hard to put down. Redemption is pictured in the illicit sexual love of the protagonist and a cobelligerent which appears to be running quite parallel to what Leithart says Lawrence was up to in some of his work.
One of the most annoying elements of modern scholarship is our tendency to assume mass ignorance on matters that we feel intellectually superior concerning and to assume mass intelligence on matters that we feel morally superior concerning. Consider an example: It is concluded by some that early Christians added or deleted particular words or phrases from original manuscripts of Scripture because of their racial/ethnic prejudices (e.g. conscious dislike for Jews). We perceive ourselves as morally superior, and therefore their commissions or omissions are devious and thoroughly premeditated; no chance they just missed a word or meant a very slight clarification. Consider another example: It is concluded by some that since ancient Hebrews were stupid (that’s the technical scholarly term) they wouldn’t have noticed that some passages of Scripture repeated previously told events, occasionally told events out of chronological order, and weren’t good in math as their early genealogies add up to a very young world irreconcilable with our modern convictions. So ancient peoples are stupid and brilliant. Get it straight. And don’t confuse the two. Ever.