Martin Hägglund is a professor of comparative literature and humanities at Yale. He has written a very interesting book titled This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (buy from that link, and I get #commissions!). This Life caught my attention a while back, but I was not able to get to it because of numerous obligations. I have serious disagreements with the book, but found it helpful in a number of regards. There is a good review of This Life by Nathan Brown here, and another by Samuel Moyn here. I’ve just found another review/exchange, as I post this here, between Hägglund and Robert Pippin — so far (I’ve only dipped into it), it’s great. There are other reviews out there, and some are bad; the ones I linked to above, as I recall, are the better ones that I found.
Yes: “good customs are stronger than good laws”. It is interesting to see the likening of a spouse to one’s own body, as Tacitus is only about 70 or so years after Paul, who used similar imagery. How stock ws the image? I am tempted to buy Wilson’s _Pauline Parallels_ (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0664231209/)
Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…
Tacitus, Germania 19-20
In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.
There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child…
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I would not normally repost things not thematically related to this blog, but Kindra is worth your support in this time.
In the kitchen
my mother was dead with no religion;
she’d bumped her head and painted the floor.
Dead head red
Mother were your eyes closed or open?
Only the cat knows
as well as policemen.
Bloated bag of bones
drained and taking space in chest of drawers…
you don’t belong there but what can I do?
I’ve never been good at saving you.
You wait for the oven that will
Don’t fret mother;
your girls won’t toss the dirt on you.
We will wear your body dressed in silver
displayed ‘round our necks.
No one can hurt you now.
Not your mother or your father;
not corrupt Jehovah
who’d abandoned you at sixteen years
Mama 19 again at 24;
You weren’t perfect but you were ours
and you were beautiful even at your ugliest
because we knew you loved us
so fucking hard it…
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