Treasure of the Heart

What do you own? And what sort of stuff do you possess?

Ordinarily we think that people own material things like land, houses, automobiles, and jewelry. People also own pledges or contracts – in the form of money, bank accounts, stock funds, insurance etc. – that support basic needs and interests beyond basic needs.

However, a few voices at either end of a spectrum, the most radical on one side and the most religious on the other, have asserted that we do not own those things and those pledges. Continue reading “Treasure of the Heart”

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A China Connection

During his first year in Boston at Harvard Med, Arthur Guyton met Ruth Weigle. He and a fellow student had ridden bicycles 15 miles as far as Wellesley College to take advantage of a pleasant day. Ruth was walking with a friend whom the young men had met at a party. They talked a while. Nothing came of it, but she impressed him enough that she stuck somehow in his memory. Continue reading “A China Connection”

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Stupid

Because of the concerted effort of therapists over 2 or 3 generations, scouring and shaping the collective human soul as steadily as ocean waves in ceaseless rows grind the beach sand, certain words and their associated ideas have eroded from recognition as we enter the 21st century.

One of those words is “stupid.” It’s a word that children should never hear, according to my son and daughter-in-law. And I know they are right. Continue reading “Sometimes It’s Better to Be Stupid”

Sonya Tolstoy’s Contribution

Feminism sprang up as a social movement a few decades after Leo Tolstoy published his two great novels. Predating feminism, both War and Peace and Anna Karenina feature female characters whose lifelike portrayal equals and often exceeds that of the male protagonists.

In War and Peace, Natasha Rostov provides the developing character around whom the male figures come and go. In addition we meet Anna Pavlovna Scherer, who commands the true center of Petersburg society, orphan Sonya, the Rostovs’ niece, whose fate past childhood hangs in the balance, and Maria Bolkonsky, whose moral elevation redeems those around her. Anna Karenina has 4 major characters paired as Anna and Vronsky, Kitty and Levin, as well as a touching portrait of Varenka, a common girl raised and educated by an heiress.

Tolstoy leads his female and male readers alike not only to appreciate the women in his novels, but to identify with them, to feel their pain and their victories. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and one wonders how these fictional women became so true to life. Continue reading “Sonya Tolstoy’s Contribution”