“…aspirations to perfection awaken us to our actual imperfection.” It is in the space between these aspirations and our inability to achieve them that Grant reflects upon imperfection. Grant argues that an awareness of imperfection, defined as both suffering and the need for justice, drive us to an unrelenting search for perfection, freedom, and self-determination. The twenty-one brief chapters of Imperfection develop this governing idea as it relates to the present situation of the God debate, modern ethnic conflicts, and the pursuit of freedom in relation to the uncertainties of personal identity and the quest for self-determination. Known for his exploration of the relationship between Buddhism and violent ethnic conflict in modern Sri Lanka, as well as his contribution to the study of Northern Ireland and the complex relationships among religion, literature, and ethnicity, Grant provides the reader with an analysis of the widespread rise of religious extremism across the globe. Referencing Plato, Van Gogh, Jesus, and the Buddha, he enlightens the reader with both succinct and original insights into human society. Imperfection is the result of an important Canadian public intellectual at work.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover 1
PART I: Imperfection 20
1 Plato and the Limits of Idealism 22
2 The Van Gogh Letters: The Art of the Unfinished 30
3 The Trouble with Visions 44
4 Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Regressive Inversion 54
5 Osama, Theo, and the Burnt Fool’s Bandaged Finger 62
6 What the Buddha Didn’t Say 70
7 Not So Good News: The Gospel According to Mark 80
PART II: Self 90
8 Immortal Souls and State Executions 92
9 The Eyes Have It: Seeing One’s Self and Others 102
10 The God of Battles and the Irish Dimension of Shakespeare’s Henry V 112
11 Crucifying Harry: Victims, Scapegoats, and the Northern Ireland Troubles 120
12 Talking to the Cyclops: On Violence and Self-Destruction 128
13 Doing Nothing About It: Taoism, Selflessness, and Non-Action 134
14 Cliff Jumpers and Delta Dwellers: On Religious Language and Commitment 146
PART III: Freedom 154
15 Dr. Johnson, Freedom, and the Book of Psalms 156
16 Sex, Society, and Romeo and Juliet 168
17 Cartoons from Denmark and the March of the Zombies 178
18 Vergil and the Almighty Dollar 186
19 Endgame in Sri Lanka: Dharmapala’s Legacy and Rajapaksa’s War 196
20 Jung and The Secret of the Golden Flower 208
21 Kieslowski’s Red: Fraternity in the Making 218