Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.
A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher (1977).
Choice quote: “Anyone who goes openly on a journey into the interior, who withdraws from the ceaseless agitation of everyday life and pursues some kind of training–satipatthana, yoga, Jesus Prayer, or something similar–without which genuine self-knowledge cannot be obtained, is accused of selfishness and of turning his back on his social duties.”
Schumachers don’t exist anymore, as far as I can discern. Schumacher was an economist, and a highly-respected one and, even more rare, one who was engaged in the practical affairs of commerce. Yet he had profound insight into the nature of the spirit, into religious matters and how a soul operates. There were other people of this type–people talented at their mundane craft with spiritual insight–in the middle half of the twentieth century. Clare Booth Luce comes to mind, as do Polanyi, CSL, GKC, Tolkien, O’Connor, Anscombe, Stern. Even Einstein, to a degree. But today, it’s almost as though the cultural swamp of materialism, technological progress, and science has spread throughout every crevice of society, leaving no room for such men. The Schumachers fought to build dykes to hold the swamp back, but it doesn’t appear they succeeded. Last I knew, Schumacher’s Guide wasn’t even in print. It’s an astounding book. Over half of my copy is underlined, I have annotations in the margins. I’ve pulled it off the shelf scores of times over the past ten years. Yet who has heard of it? Everyone knows about Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb. Those books deal with things valued by The Swamp. But Schumacher’s masterpiece? It doesn’t. Its failure is a testament to Schumacher’s failure, but he’s not damned for it. Though we might be.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList
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