If that doesn't put you to sleep, try Schopenhauer.
Tolstoy and other great writers kept faith alive during the days when religion was taboo but the old classics were still read on the sly. (there is a part in Soltzenitzen's "Cancer ward" where the patients discuss one of Tolstoy's books for example.)
One longs for the days of the "Great books" discussions, which are now censored because they were white men, yet multiculturalism actually ignores the great books of other cultures in favor of a marxist nihilistic view of life.
I mean, why not compare Musashi to Tolstoy? Shakespeare to the Genji? So one wonders where our children will find the great ideas still exist on the sly. Percy Jackson? LOTR? X Men?
One insteresting aside on the Librivox page about the Will to Power:
Schopenhauer squarely faces the fact that existence is fundamentally suffering, but it would be simplistic to label him (as is so often done) as nothing but a pessimist. His affirmation of Art and Love is a transforming principle, having a powerful influence on writers such as Tolstoy. In the end, he chooses the Way of Negation as the path toward peace; by denying our Will, by silencing the many outbreaks of Will in our lives, we can approach the ultimate peace of annihilation that is the theme of the great Vedic philosophy of India, to which Schopenhauer admits his profound debt.hmm...annihilation as peace....is that the "vedic" Philosophy?
Don't ask me. But I wonder if he noticed how that part about "denying will" actually worked in reality: It translates as telling the poor and the untouchables to just suck it in and you'll find pie in the sky when you die...
which explains why so many in India and Afghanistan turned Muslim, which in it's south Asian form was Sufi, stressing the joy of being one with one's God, (as in the Gita) not the rigid rule oriented Islam that the Saudis are busy exporting. The Saudi exported version of Islam reminds me of Calvinism "converting" all those easy going papists to a rigid theocracy, while destroying all who stood in their way. What is needed in Islam is a counterreformation...
the president of Egypt is trying to do this (Cairo is a center for Islamic scholarship) but one does not know if he will succeed.
Related item: Get Religion and David Warren both comment on the touchy feely "god loves you" churches that then wonder why they don't keep their members.
GR quotes a conservativeblogger about this
This is the problem with Christianity in this country. Not just inside our church buildings, but everywhere. It often has no edge, no depth. No sense of its own ancient and epic history. There is no sacredness to it. No pain. No beauty. No reverence. Or I should say Christianity has all of those things, fundamentally and totally, but many modern Christians in every denomination have spent many years trying to blunt them or bury them under a thousand layers of icing and whipped cream and apathy.
it's not the joyful part that is the problem. It is the superficiality of it.
CanadianBloggerDavid Warren frequently post about the problem and today's lecture is about how the traditional liturgy is best when it sees the whole, and not just in a linear fashion.
“traditional” (i.e. genuine) Catholic worship, the Mass serves as a kind of moving eye, through the whole scriptural heritage, casting light into its parts through the turning seasons. ... it adds a specifically divine, extra-temporal dimension to that reading, through the use of time in a grand circuit: beginning where we end, and ending at the beginning, and unfolding from any point at all. The Lord who calls us is not confined to this arrow of time, calling us as much from past and future as from the present moment.Ah, but is the Latin mass better for non European culture? That has yet to be proven. Maybe the real problem is lack of reverence in modern religion, and too often I am left feeling as an outsider hanging on my my fingernails in the midst of a touchy feely crowd who sing about their love for everyone else but never bother to actually get to know or to help their neighbors in a practical manner as the old fashioned Catholic/Baptist/Lutheran ladies usually did in the good old days.
so why go to church at all? To meet Jesus one to one by receiving him in communion...
One is reminded of Tolkien's reasons:
“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth...
Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children—from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn—open-necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them).
"It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people.
"It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand—after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”
My main complaint on the "modern" touchy feely churches is that they ignore the sacrament, so most "modern" catholics don't even recognize Jesus is met there.
which is one of the real problems of the much needed but too superficial charismatic types of worship that are spreading around the globe: it's about making people feel good, not about meeting Jesus in the trenches of life.
of course, it's easier to just have the kids sing and do liturgical dance like my Granddaughter does every weekend at her pentecostal church...and then have the kids do "outreach" to teach Jesus to those wise old Catholic ladies in the poor villages who smile at the youngsters and then go back to placing sampagita fronds on their Mama Mary statues. The old ladies see Jesus and Mary as part of their family. Mary lost a son, so she understands you when you mourn. And Jesus? Well, you learn about Jesus via stories (aka parables) and fiestas...
but they can't quote scripture (usually out of context) to explain this logically, so they are considered pagans who need to be "converted" to the superficial get happy pentecostal churches where there is no place for sorrow, for deep joy, or even knowing that Jesus was a man like us and liked a SanMig once in awhile.
Yes, I'm feeling nasty again.
the good news? Pedialyte cures hangovers.