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Letter to a Priest

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  148 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Letter to a Priest encapsulates the sharp wit and questioning nature of Simone Weil. Regarded by Susan Sontag as 'one of the most uncompromising and troubling witnesses to the modern travail of the spirit', Weil grips the moral imagination as few others before or since. She was only thirty four when she died in 1943, yet despite her short life she left behind an incredible ...more
Paperback, 82 pages
Published April 4th 2002 by Routledge (first published 1951)
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(showing 1-30)
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Justin Evans
It's hard not to like a book that starts with the idea of a "painful spiritual state" that the author "would like to make... not less painful, only clearer. Any pain whatsoever is acceptable where there is clarity." It is hard to like a book filled with such history-of-religion cliches as the cruel God of Israel, the idolatry of the Jews, and the (usually praiseworthy) wish to compare religions that aren't really comparable at all; Weill compares Christianity, which she sees as centered on belie ...more
Erika Sajdak
Jan 07, 2011 Erika Sajdak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time, Simone Weil was a huge influence on my religious development. I felt that I had found a soul mate when I stumbled upon Waiting for God, and this book was an obvious next step.
Her struggle with God and Catholicism is almost as desperate as her struggle with food and with corporations.
This letter is much like a treatise Martin Luther would have written, but her issues with Christianity are more pronounced in our worldly society. She studied more than most of her age, and we are
Harry Allagree
Feb 11, 2013 Harry Allagree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first I've read anything by Simone Weil. Written to an unnamed priest in 1942, there's no evidence that he ever responded to her before her death the next year. One thing that fairly jumps out from the quality of her questions re: the Catholic Church & its teaching is her encyclopedic grasp of literature, both secular & sacred, & history. The other very apparent fact is her deep commitment to truth & honesty in matters of religion. I realized that, as a former Roman C ...more
Feb 11, 2008 Abailart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revisiting. Sort of 35 theses from Weil. I am reading it concurrently with one of Bonhoeffer's prison letters; interested in the concept of 'religionless Christianity' and looking at what the two thinkers reveal about themselves psychologically (I am interested in how the 'psychological self' shapes the rest, be it metaphysical, ideological, moral or whatever.
Reading Weil is like having a curry with a wasp. But worth it.
Stevie Hine
Aug 28, 2013 Stevie Hine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I thoroughly enjoyed this little book. Most of her arguments and ideas seem silly to me, she skips around from literal interpretations of scriptures and stories, to allegorical interpretations, to myth crossing back and forth at random. Other ideas she tosses around appear to be completely speculative or whimsy. However I see a lot of wisdom in a few of the arguments, and plenty of intriguing thoughts. These make the book worth both reading and recommending.
Redd Oscar
Dec 15, 2016 Redd Oscar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
The greatest book on religion/spirituality you could possibly read.
Mar 20, 2017 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weil has always fascinated me, though I haven't read her in depth since graduate school. Current events, though, and her mention in At the Existentialist Cafe inspired me to dust off the stacks (or, more accurately, retrieve the box from the storage unit) and revisit her. I should have done so much earlier.
Aaron Jacob
Oct 06, 2014 Aaron Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weil's letter, to which it is thought that she received no reply, is wondrously paradoxical in that each point seems to lead Weil—and the reader, rather significantly—ever closer and closer to Christianity, yet ever further and further from the Church and its exoteric tradition. Hers is perhaps the best articulation in the available literature of a Christianity which does not accord any privilege to Israel or to Rome. She notes such striking likenesses between the ethical and aesthetical themes ...more
simone weil has a dark, delirious, and captivating way of thinking about the religious experience--particularly askesis, the dark night of the soul. her theodicy puts human suffering (or affliction, or wretchedness, or malheur) at its center: through creation, god renounced his perfection, drew back the the curtain of his total dominion and allowed for the creation of the universe in the remaining void. it is the minds of men that bear the brunt of filling in the resultant vacuum: "[the soul] tr ...more
Eduardo Moraes
Mar 10, 2014 Eduardo Moraes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It is written that the tree shall be known by its fruits. The Church has borne too many evil fruits for there not to have been some mistake made at the beginning. Europe has been spiritually uprooted, cut off from that antiquity in which all the elements of our civilization have their origin; and she has gone about uprooting the other continents from the 16th century onwards. (...) America remained for 16 centuries withouth hearing Christ spoken of and the nations living there were destroyed in ...more
Jan Carlo Evangelista
Dec 26, 2012 Jan Carlo Evangelista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody questioning the morality and logic of the Church's teachings
A few years ago, I had a lengthy discussion with my cousin about philosophy and religion (and my lack thereof) and he lent me this book. It's pretty short, but I took very long to finish it — even discontinued reading it a few times and then picking it up again whenever I felt like it — because it was very difficult to read. Simone Weil, who herself seems vastly educated on theology and the history of the Christian religion, addressed this to a priest, whom we can expect to have had spent years ...more
Certain facts can be the results either of what takes plce in the flesh, or of the action of the devil upon the soul, or of action on the part of God. Thus one man weeps with physical pain; another by the side of him weeps for thinking about God with a pure love. In both cases there are tears. These tears are the results produced by a psycho-physical mechanism. But in one of the two cases a wheel of this mechanism is a supernatural one; it is charity. In this sense, although tears are such an or ...more
Simon Hall
Simone Weil was a contrary lady.

it's impossible to describe her in a brief review. You should read up on her life. A deeply comitted Christian who never joined a church, a highly educated woman who chose to live and work among the poor (and died for it). A friend of the existentialists and a student of spirituality. An enigma.

In her Letter to a Priest, Weil lays out all the reasons she cannot be a communicant member of the Catholic Church. Techincally, they are laid out as a question: can The Ch
Jan 03, 2015 Pedro rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je étais curieux de lire ce livre après avoir vu le court métrage éponyme Letter to a priest, dont la première à la JMJ 2013 à Rio de Janeiro.

Comme il existe une version française libre, me plaisait la suggestion que le GoodReeds me ont fait, et je l'ai lu.
Très intéressant. Bien que, malheureusement, la réponse ne est pas venu dans la vie de l'auteur; dans Concile Vatican II, ans plus tard, plusieurs questions sont répondues.

"Il n'y a pas d'urgence. Je demande seulement une réponse catégorique."
Jan 01, 2015 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"Letter to a Priest" by Simone Weil is an unvarnished work from one of the twentieth-century's most interesting philosophers. Written in New York in 1942 before Weil returned to Europe to join the Free French, the letter catches the author a decisive moment in her short life. In the letter, she explains over thirty points raising questions or objections about modern Christianity, its relationship to other religions, and the faith as embodied in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a short distillati ...more
Matthew Butson
Having been left truly in awe at some of her other works, this was much less accessible. In the book, Weil outlines the moral struggle she has with some aspects of her Christian faith. It displays both Weil's great learning and great compassion, but it is an earnest theological discussion that was never intended for the general reader.
The reason I sit in an Episcopal Church each week, and refuse to disavow my Roman Catholic heritage, and do not feel a need to reconcile opposites. The need to sit out the formal church is compelling - it's where most of the world sits.
Mar 21, 2013 Lucas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some great ideas about the benefits and limits of Roman Catholic theology - the good of the mystery and the dangers of dogma and a dogmatic magisterium. Some really dated comparative religion and disturbing thoughts about Hellenistic philosophy redeeming Israelite theology.
May 30, 2016 Iphios rated it really liked it
Where affiliation and belonging was needed, I found it in Veil. Her words echo a truth I hold as I find my way in the journey of faith and spirituality.

It is not religion. It is faith. It is truth. For what opens us to truth if not supernatural love.
Oct 16, 2008 Mahdieh is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
نامه به یک کشیش
سیمون وی
While she makes some valid critiques of Catholocism, Weil seems to base most of her difficulties on faulty historical information and ignorance of the Bible. Sad.
Jul 01, 2013 Swan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf
I just picked up a first-edition in Berkeley. Very lucky. And happy.
I was feeling really good to find this book. Very elegant writing and very wrestled quesytions. I only wish there had been an answer!!
نامه به یک کشیش / سیمون وی
JessJess rated it it was amazing
Jun 28, 2016
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Feb 14, 2014
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Feb 22, 2016
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  • Simone Weil
Simone Weil was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist. Weil was born in Paris to Alsatian agnostic Jewish parents who fled the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. Her brilliance, ascetic lifestyle, introversion, and eccentricity limited her ability to mix with others, but not to teach and participate in political movements of her time. She wrote extensively with both in ...more
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