My next Theology on Tap lecture is entitled “Zen Lent.” It’s an extension on my Kerouac lecture. Kerouac was a Buddhist, I guess, or at least practiced Zen . . . or maybe kind of thought of himself as a Hinayana Buddhist. I’m not really sure, quite frankly, and I don’t think he was, but we got on the topic last month and three different people asked if I could talk about Zen this month. Because it’s Lent, I’m combining the two. It’s going to be a lecture about Zen, with a Lenten kicker at the end.
And what is the Lenten kicker? Precisely this: I think Zen might explain why so many of us enter Lent with great intentions and come out of Lent miserable failures. More importantly, I think it might provide a solution. I’m tempted to say that I’m positive it provides a solution, but since I haven’t empirically proven it to myself, I don’t want to speak definitively. I don’t want to be like those overweight people who give other people dieting advice.
That Zen history pictured above is a classic, btw, written by a Jesuit. A good Jesuit or a bad one, I can’t say, but a Jesuit. I’ve read large chunks of the book and, based on what I’ve read, it’s very good. I also have the second volume in the series. It’s one of those reading projects I’d love to take and just absorb myself in it at my leisure, like Henry Ryecroft receiving that small annuity and retiring to his cottage to spend time with his books (only to find out shortly thereafter that he’s dying).
That Gissing novel is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read . . . or at least, so I thought when I was in my thirties. I’m going to start reading it again to see what I think 15 years later.
Other reading “projects” I’d like to take on: Dostoyevsky’s Writer’s Diary, the works of Maximos the Confessor (with an eye toward love and the Stoic-like detachment it fosters), von Balthasar in general, and the works of Josef Pieper.
Housekeeping matter: Yesterday, I used the word “isolationist” to describe people opposed to empire building. That’s the wrong word. The correct word is “non-interventionist”: people who oppose American military intervention but are in favor of international trade.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList