Another Sort of Reset
St. John Paul II used to tell a story – a true story – about a colleague of his at a Polish university where the future pope was teaching ethics. The colleague was a physicist who claimed that he was an atheist when he was sitting at his desk, but found himself believing in God when he went out hiking in the mountains.
Ever since I read that story, it’s come back to me, with force, in different situations. You could simply read it as yet another example of the follies of intellectuals. So far as I’ve heard, the professor in question never resolved this contradiction, which you might think would be the central occupation of his professional and private lives.
But we’re a strange species and, in my experience, intellectuals are hardly alone in harboring starkly contradictory impulses on momentous matters, which they can’t resolve by their usual means.
Still, to me, his case is a sharp reminder that we all need to break out of the hot-houses of thought and action that we tend to create, insulating ourselves from reality, never more so than in modern technological societies, particularly just now by the digital revolution. And the lockdowns this year, which drove many of us to increased screen time, only made bad things worse.