Publications

On Not Being Boring

Robert C. KoonsSep 13, 2015

"R.J. Snell has written a substantial and illuminating book, using the ancient concept of the vice of acedia(spiritual or intellectual sloth) as an axis around which he unifies a set of reflections on contemporary culture, drawn primarily from the work of Charles Taylor, John Paul II, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Josef Pieper, George Grant, and Wendell Berry. Snell makes good use of contemporary literature, such as Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and John Williams’s Butcher’s Crossing. Snell also brings into the discussion some practical reflections on the vice of sloth from ancient monastic sources, especially John Cassian (360–435). Although his approach is not unique, the book is well constructed for throwing light from the Jewish and Christian tradition on some of the spiritual pathologies of our time."

Click here to read the full review at The University Bookman site.

The Various Disciplines of a Well-Ordered Life

Tyler CampbellAug 28, 2015

No shortage of ink has been spilled surrounding the spiritual ramifications of our culture’s need for constant entertainment. Often times these didactic moments begin by addressing the material things that we spend considerable amounts of time with, and conclude with a call to disregard this type of lifestyle and return to a more disciplined religious life. But what of our metaphysical makeup implies the tension between discipline and lethargy? In his latest book, Acedia and its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire, R.J. Snell uses a variety of sources to create a modern definition of the Latin word acedia, which is generally translated as the noun sloth. Through his investigation Snell establishes that defining acedia as mere laziness misses out on the true character of the term, as seen within historical theology and scripture. By looking at acedia through a metaphysical lens and applying examples of contemporary distraction, Snell shows that the antithesis of acedia is found in a deeper understanding of the ways in which the Divine’s self-communicative love permeates into the mundane work of our life, making all that we do beautiful and important.

Click here to read the full article at Englewood Review of Books online.

Laudato Si’ and the Feverish Summer

R. J. SnellAug 20, 2015

For many, this summer was long, hot, and awful — at least politically; no one particularly recalls the weather. Why so rotten? Laudato si’,Obergefell, Planned Parenthood, and Trump.

The less said about Trump the better, a judgment many people also have made about Laudato si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment. After some initial eye-rolling and murmurs about competence on scientific matters, the document was largely ignored, replaced as a topic of conversation by gay marriage and the booming trade in fetal organs.

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Boredom and a Whole Lot More…

David George MooreAug 18, 2015

On Patheos website, David George Moore interviews R J Snell about his new book, Acedia and its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom and the Empire of Desire.

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Leisure, the Basis of Summer Break

R. J. SnellJun 22, 2015

Classes have ended, or soon will, with final papers and exams to follow them into the hazy fog of memory. The term is over, and summer is (almost) here.  For some of you, this is a transition to a career, while others look forward to internships, a summer job, or summer classes—in other words, work

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Gift of Work

Peter J. LeithartJun 4, 2015

Read Peter Leithart's enthusiastic review of R.J. Snell's latest book in First Things.

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A Slothful Repugnance at Being

R. J. SnellApr 28, 2015

For the last few years I’ve been thinking about a deadly sin, acedia or sloth. Friends and family joke that I must be working or studying whenever I happen to catch a ball game or invent some reason to avoid painting the shed. Others promise to read my newly released book on sloth when they can muster up enough energy or get around to it.

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You Can Argue with a Progressive: Reason, Natural Law, and the University

R. J. SnellMar 30, 2015

I sometimes find myself resonating with Leontius’s failed attempt, as reported in Plato’s Republic, to avoid looking at a mound of corpses. At first, knowing the indecency of the spectacle, he covers his face until, overpowered, he "opened his eyes wide, ran toward the corpses and said: 'Look, you damned wretches, take your fill of the fair sight.’”

Now, I find no allure in expired bodies but admit the thrill of moribundideas, particularly worldviews suffering fate at their own hands (or under the crushing weight of their own illogic, as it may be)... 

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