She writes of her and her husband David's battles with acedia and its clinical cousin, depression, and traces acedia's path through literary and religious history, exposing the damage it does not only to individual lives but also to our culture as a whole, as we are desensitized by ever more intrusive distractions and lose the ability to care about what is truly important. Thus, she finds that the "restless boredom, frantic escapism, commitment phobia, and enervating despair" that we struggle with today are "the ancient demon of acedia in modern dress."
An examination of acedia in the light of theo logy, psychology, monastic spirituality, the healing powers of religious practice, and Norris's own experience, Acedia & Me is both intimate and historically sweeping, brimming with exasperation as well as reverence, sometimes funny, often provocative, and always important.
©2008 Kathleen Norris; (P)2008 Penguin Audiobooks
i can see how this book is NOT for everyone. dilettantes (those looking for a quick and fashionable fix) need not apply. but for the serious minded who seek legitimate context, this book is a jewel. Norris' narration brings alive her words and her experiences. the only caveat i offer is that some of the book is eccentric ... in a positive sense of that word: it is about her (acedia and ME) but as a cautionary tale, she's good and offers an informed perspective.
I have both. I don't think one can compare audio to print. They serve different purposes. Both are great in this case.
Norris' assessment and application of acedia's influence within our affluent American culture is spot on.
She is bit academic. But it is honest and I always like the author to read. The story is personal enough that is right to have her read it.
The chapter "Acedia's Progress" is so sharp. Norris' application of acedia as the malady of our milieu is not shallow but solid and convincing. I was so impressed. I put it to journal attempting to make it as close as possible.
I believe this work is far more than a personal story. It is so throughly researched and cohesive that it more like a doctoral class at a seminary, taught by both the expert and the practitioner. I am have only briefly ran across the term "acedia" in my readings of early desert hermits, so I am no expert on the subject. But after hearing Norris I feel I understand the concept very well.
Norris is fantastic. Introspective, candid, poetic, and compassionate without mincing words. I love the depth of thought that goes into her writing, and yet she's very easy to follow.
As a reader, Norris knows what she's doing (though I do disagree about some of her pronunciations, she's not novel in using them--things like "lived" rhyming with "dived".) Her tone is level and even, perhaps it could be described as plodding, but she definitely understands the cadence of the 'voice' in her writing. I can imagine a more lively reader for the book, but the personal nature of her story makes her the natural choice.
I sought this book after hearing a radio interview with its author and was very dismayed to see that she narrated it herself. A computer-generated voice would be less mechanical and grating. Still, I wanted to read the book, which I cannot obtain in print locally, so I gritted my teeth and bought the audio. A regrettable decision: Norris rambles through centuries and over continents, attributing to acedia the rise of Nazism, American consumerism, homelessness, monastic fitfulness, the Columbine killings, general inability to concentrate, and the existence of overseas sweat-shops. She takes some pains to distinguish acedia from depression but fails abysmally to distinguish it from boredom, indifference, sloth, cynicism, and despair. I regret that acedia did not prevent Ms. Norris from completing this book and still more that it did not keep her away from the recording booth.
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