Author Archives: Rebecca Bratten Weiss

About Rebecca Bratten Weiss

When I'm feeling optimistic about my life, I call myself a Renaissance woman; when I'm being realistic, though, I have to confess that I am no Pico della Mirandola girding my robes to debate the luminaries of the day, but rather an easily-distracted post-modern pro-life feminist environmentalist farmer and teacher, with too many theories and not enough discipline. Maybe that's okay, though: I've come to discover that academic rigor sometimes leaves no space for the kind of conversations in which philosophy really "happens." Or maybe this is just my excuse for preferring lively dialogue with friends over the drudgery of scholarship. Since I am busy raising a family and working several odd jobs, I don't have the time I need for genuine scholarship, anyway, but that doesn't mean philosophy takes a back seat or waits for me to get done with this phase of my life. Philosophy is at the heart of life. To be a thinking, questioning, valuing, doubting, believing, bodily creature - that's what it means to be human, after all. I have an eclectic religious background (Jewish, Evangelical Protestant, Catholic) - so, while I am now a practicing Roman Catholic I find myself more interested in building bridges of understanding with people from a variety of faith traditions, than in worrying about apologetics. I am fascinated by the different processes by which people try to figure it all out, this struggle called life. I am also fascinated by the ability of so many to ignore the struggle, to silence the conflicts of the human heart, whether by turning away from the "ultimate questions" - or by forcing overly easy answers to these questions. When it comes to matters of faith, I have moments of Nietzschean agnosticism, and moments of neo-classical Deism, and moments when I believe that beyond all the veils that lie across the faces of reality, there is a being who not only created the world and set things ticking, but also loves us. These moments of religious certainty are born not out of rationalism, nor any gifts of mystical insight, but just out of my stubborn existentialist refusal to think of a universe in which any person can live and die utterly unloved. That's why I have stuck it out with Christianity, fundamentally: the compelling image of a God who loved us so much he'd rather come down and walk among us in the mess and murk of human life and death than coerce us into perfection. If it weren't for this image of Jesus - if it were just the institution and the rituals and the apologetics and the authorities, I'd just say "to hell with it" and be a Zoroastrian.

Dealing with the Cyber-Inquisitors

    A year or so ago, I posted something about the weird habit people have of “calling you out in love” – and how anti-phenomenological the whole thing is. Well, no one ever calls me out on the internet … Continue reading

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An Open Letter to Aspiring Homesteaders

As a sort-of homesteader, I am always torn between the feelings of elation one gets when tapping trees, laying down compost, or canning tomatoes,…..and the feelings of hopelessness one gets over the heating bill or the need to take the … Continue reading

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Religion and Institution

You’ve heard the claim a dozen times: “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” As a person who is particular about language, I tend always to want to ask: what the hell do you even MEAN?  Because, really, being “spiritual” is fundamentally … Continue reading

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I’m calling you out in love

I guess love is sort of a banal idea.  I discovered that in grad school, where it was the hip thing to find the “secret teaching” in the great books: of course Antony and Cleopatra could not possibly be about … Continue reading

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On the Proper Care and Feeding of Literary Works

I’ve noticed that my writing output significantly decreases when I am pregnant (as I am now: 31 weeks).  It’s not just that I lack the focus or the energy to sit down and sustain a thought for more than three … Continue reading

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Apocalypse Beans

“One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. “ … Continue reading

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The Italian Peasant Experiment

Once you grow up, you are expected only to make believe when you are cast in a play…and then you call it acting, and it is serious. I never quite stopped playing pretend games, however.  Probably my love for theatre … Continue reading

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