The Awkwardness of Advent | Crisis Magazine


The star that Jean-Paul Sartre once was, doyen of his day’s incompletely educated intellectuals, has not quietly faded the way splashy names often do in the generation after they die. His star has astonishingly imploded. Some echoes remain, for he was not devoid of a way with words, nor was he without rays of light seeping through his melancholy philosophy. Even if his existentialism did not include belief in the existence of Hell, he described its non-existence well as the place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself. That was before a new crop of people appeared, Twittering in solitude surrounded by crowds. It was not before people began making Christmas hellish by trying to celebrate a “joy without a cause.” That phrase from Chesterton’s The Ballad of the White Horse was published in 1911, but two years earlier in All Things Considered he was quite specific: “There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes.”

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