Our Troubled Minds, Our Anxious Age, and the Ancient Alternative of Cistercian Spirituality: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Mar 18, 2023
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Sr. Maria Gonzalo, OCSOOur Lady of the Angels Monastery

Joseph DavisUniversity of Virginia

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This event is co-presented by the Lumen Christi Institute and the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought at the University of Virginia. Find out more at their website:

Have you ever been afflicted by a lack of focus, feelings of loneliness, debilitating anxieties, or inexplicable bouts of sadness, anger or despair in the midst of great personal achievements? Can advances in neurological medicine and pharmaceutical therapies heal our broken hearts, fix our troubled minds, and lead us to even greater personal triumphs? Many hope so, turning to neuro-chemical treatments that soothe our brains without bringing clarity to our difficulties and the social conditions within which we live. But is this type of happiness and lack of meaning what we truly seek? Or are there other unexplored alternatives that reveal who we are along with the realities of our everyday sufferings? Join us for a novel interrogation of these questions that exposes the limits of contemporary interpretations and the time-tested Cistercian perspective of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), who offers a salvific "compound that no pharmacist can produce."

This program is made possible through the support of grant #62372 from the John Templeton Foundation,“In Lumine: Promoting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide." 

Joseph E. Davis is Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Picturing the Human Project of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Professor Davis’ research explores the intersecting questions of self, morality, and cultural change. In studies of medicine, psychiatry, work, AI, aging, social movements, and other fields, he has examined trauma psychology, narratives of suffering, the rise of biological explanations of mental life, medicalization, psychoactive drug use, and our cultural dreams of technological mastery. He is the author or editor of several books and his articles have appeared in many journals, peer-reviewed and popular. He is a former editor of The Hedgehog Review and writes a Psychology Today blog called “Our New Discontents: Reflections on Mental Health and Social Ideals."