Do You Have a Good Life? Brooks and Volf Weigh In.

Talk about a knockout collaboration.

And it’s free:

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From Yale’s Center for Faith and Culture:

We are delighted to share an upcoming event that our Life Worth Living program is hosting on the main campus of Yale University in New Haven.

New York Times columnist David Brooks will join our very own Miroslav Volf in a conversation on “Character, Flourishing, and the Good Life.” They will each be building on the work they have been doing to answer the central question of our lives questions: What makes a life worth living?

More information on the free event can be found here.

And for those of us who don’t live near Yale’s home in New Haven, CT, Brooks’ and Volf’s discussion will be live-streamed here.

Can’t watch the live-stream? Watch it later here. Even better, grab a group of friends and make an event out of it.

And if you’re loaner jet is available within the next week, just let me know.

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Livestream — David Brooks Talk on Character

Wanna do lunch tomorrow?

New York Times columnist and bestselling author David Brooks will be speaking at a town hall forum on “The Role of Character In Creating an Excellent Life.” The talk is largely based on his new book, The Road to Character. (Read the Times review here.)

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If you live in the Minneapolis, you can attend the event for free, but you can livestream Brooks’ talk tomorrow (May 14th) at 12:00 PM (noon) CST here. (Just click the “On Air” box on the top right.)

I’ll add a link of Brooks’ talk when it’s available.

David Brooks: How to Be Religious In the Public Square

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The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently spoke at The Gathering, a Christian philanthropic organization, about “How to Be Religious in the Public Square.”

Brooks covers a lot of compelling ground, including:

  • The difference between “Adam One” and “Adam Two”;
  • The effects of love;
  • The effects of suffering;
  • Our universal longing for transcendence;
  • Discovering that St. Augustine, in Brooks’ words, is his “ultimate hero”;
  • The walls Christians erect against secular culture;
  • How to build effective ramps to secular culture.

It’s classic Brooks, who candidly, winsomely and humbly speaks to the Christian community as a “holy friend,” willing to wound in love by saying what the Church must hear.

Read or listen to David Brooks on “How to Be Religious in the Public Square” here. [Scroll to bottom of page for link.]

Your Mind Is Not a Vacuum

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David Brooks writes about the relationship between the mind, morality and character in The New York Times op-ed article “The Mental Virtues”:

…[the]mind is embedded in human nature, and very often thinking well means pushing against the grain of our nature — against vanity, against laziness, against the desire for certainty, against the desire to avoid painful truths. Good thinking isn’t just adopting the right technique. It’s a moral enterprise and requires good character, the ability to go against our lesser impulses for the sake of our higher ones.

Read Brooks’ “The Mental Virtues” here.

Winning the War on Distraction: Here’s How

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New York Times columnist David Brooks on how to win the war on distraction:

…if you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say “no” to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say “yes” to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.

So how does one arouse this “terrifying longing”?

Look to children.

Read Brooks’ tactics for winning the war with distraction here.

“Songs Exploded From My Head”: Sting’s Story On Going Home

David Brooks of The New York Times writes an interesting article about Sting revisiting his past in order to move imgres-4forward in the present:

Most of us have an urge, maybe more as we age, to circle back to the past and touch the places and things of childhood.

Brooks notes that going back home, as painful as it often is, does three helpful things:

  1. Creates: “The events of childhood are like the Hebrew alphabet; the vowels are missing, and the older self has to make sense of them. Robert Frost’s famous poem about the two paths diverging in the woods isn’t only about the two paths. It also describes how older people go back in memory and impose narrative order on choices that didn’t seem so clear at the time.”
  2. Invents: “…a coherent tradition out of discrete moments and teasing out future implications. He has to see the world with two sets of eyes: the eyes of his own childhood self and the eyes of his current adult self.”
  3. Reorients: “Going back means recapturing the original aspirations. That’s one reason Jews go back to Exodus every year. It’s why Augustine went back during a moment of spiritual crisis and wrote a book about his original conversion.”

The effect of going home for Sting? “His creativity was reborn. Songs exploded from his head.”

Brooks concludes:

Sting’s talk was a reminder to go forward with a backward glance, to go one layer down into self and then after self-confrontation, to leap forward out of self. History is filled with revivals, led by people who were reinvigorated for the future by a reckoning with the past.

Read Brooks’ illuminating article on Sting’s story here.

Update: Canada’s The Globe and Mail also has an article on Sting’s return home:

…as soon as I decided to honour the community I came from and tell their story, the songs started to come thick and fast. I’ve described it as a kind of projectile vomiting; a torrent of ideas, of characters and voices. Verses, couplets, entire songs almost formed whole materialized in front of me as if they’d been bottled up inside of me for many years.

Audrey Assad, Augustine and Attractive Faith

I’m astonished that The New York Times allows columnists David Brooks and Ross Douthat to write so often about matters of faith. It shows how little I understand the complicated world of higher journalism.

Brooks, in a recent article “Alone, Yet Not Alone” discusses the role of faith, doubt, loss, wandering, and eventual spiritual renewal in singer-songwriter Audrey Assad. Brooks writes,

And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.

While Audrey and I would differ denominationally (I’m Protestant, she’s Roman Catholic), I resonate with her discovering the deep riches of St. Augustine, issues of faith in great literature, and a robust Christianity that predates the 1800’s.

Brooks concludes:

If you are a secular person curious about how believers experience their faith, you might start with Augustine’s famous passage “What do I love when I love my God,” and especially the way his experience is in the world but then mysteriously surpasses the world:

“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”

Read Brooks’ article on Audrey’s journey of faith here.

And here’s a video Brooks mentions of Audrey beautifully singing “I Shall Not Want”: