December 26, 2007

QUIET ENOUGH TO HEAR:

Stunningly Silent: Into Great Silence reaches into the depth of monastic life (Thomas Hibbs, 12/21/07, National Review)
Nietzsche once trenchantly quipped that “...our modern noisy, time-consuming industriousness, proud of itself, stupidly proud, educates and prepares people more than anything else does, precisely for unbelief.”The truth in that statement is perhaps never more on display than during the Christmas season. Slogans urging us to “keep Christ in Christmas,” or “recall the reason for the season,” sound about as hollow as the Christmas jingles that reverberate in our ears every time we enter a store. Those in search of an antidote might consider watching the newly released DVD Into Great Silence, Philip Groening’s movingly observed study of the daily lives of Carthusian monks at La Grande Chartreuse, founded in the French Alps in 1084.

A prize winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the film has received universal acclaim for its minimalist style, its cinematography and especially its attentiveness to the spiritual dimension of existence to which the Carthusian life aspires. Given that contemporary entertainment fosters an attention deficit in all of us and that the film makes no effort to provide even the scaffolding of a plot, this is not, initially at least, an easy film to watch. But as it unfolds, the virtue of taking one’s time becomes evident. The virtue is most profoundly captured in one of the texts interspersed through the film: “Behold the silence that allows the Lord to speak a word in us: That He is.”


Posted by Orrin Judd at December 26, 2007 12:00 AM
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