conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

To My Friends Who Have Abandoned Faith

with 8 comments

Kathleen Norris: Acedia and Me03232014-9645679679_4550e7fedb_h

If you’ve been turned off by the excesses of evangelicalism or the big-business, industrial mindset of a megachurch, or if you’ve become weary of a clergy-centric approach to faith, or if you are tired of trite, pat answer to life’s really thorny questions, consider reading Kathleen Norris’ Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life (NY: Riverhead books, 2008).

If you’ve turned your back on faith entirely and see no point in going back to the social club that seemed to promise transcendence, especially then, read Acedia and Me. If you’ve become weary of the automatic linkage between Republicanism and Christianity, well Kathleen Norris does not speak to that sorrow. But, patience: within a generation that unfortunate concatenation will be far less automatic.

Kathleen Norris is an engaging writer who addresses the life of one’s spirit wholly without the overweening sentimentality that usually comes with such discussions. Ms. Norris sought answers from an unlikely set of conversation partners: old dead guys who wrote when people could count the centuries on two hands or even one. Many of these old desert monks had abandoned the newly popular, powerful, and politically-connected church. Instead they sought the quiet of the desert to confront their demons.

Acedia, which is perhaps the heart of Ms. Norris’ book, is not easily translated. Some read it as depression. Some read it as sloth or boredom or torpor. Ms. Norris traces the word through the ups and downs of her own life as a writer. Her own marriage is a key player in the story and she seems to hold little back in illustrating her struggle.

I was particularly taken with her definition of sin, which had less to do with breaking a set of rules and more to do with recognizing that people are made in the image of God and there is something hopeful and fetching about aligning one’s direction to recognize that.

In the end, she has a fresh take on one’s faith. You may agree. You may disagree. But you’ll be engaged. And better yet, you may even hold off from tossing everything over.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

March 23, 2014 at 6:30 pm

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I love Kathleen Norris’ books–have read The Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace, and Dakota but not Acedia. I’ll check it out soon; could use the spiritual refreshment that her books always offer. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.


    March 23, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    • I’ll be reading more of Kathleen Norris as well. I’d heard about her for so long but never read anything. Thanks for stopping by.


      March 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

  2. Interesting, and that’s a nice image you chose to go with it.

    Photography Journal Blog

    March 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

  3. Great message! I look forward to checking out her book sometime.


    March 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    • I think you’ll enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by, Anna Rose.


      March 23, 2014 at 9:37 pm

  4. […] whole discussion has me thinking about Kathleen Norris and her defense of the time we spend doing dishes or laundry or brushing our teeth. She claims […]

Leave a Reply to Photography Journal Blog Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: