Book prize winner takes on pleasure of pessimism in new release

How much are you shaped by The Pleasures of Pessimism?

A new series of little books takes on big trends such as apathy and compassion fatigue to ask all of us: is this the world we want to live in?

Dr Natasha Moore last week was crowned the winner of Australian Christian Book of the Year, and the author’s next book is part of the Re:CONSIDERING series published by Acorn Press.

Moore’s The Pleasures of Pessimism joins Tim Costello’s The Cost of Compassion as the first titles in the series. Moore and Costello are both part of Centre for Public Christianity (CPX).

Moore says there is a need to identify some of the cultural currents we all swim in, as the Re:CONSIDERING series raises questions about whether these represent how we actually want to live our lives.

Driving Moore’s latest book is the belief that “cultural pessimism” has crept into our society’s thinking. “Once we stop recognising ourselves as bound together in a common future, we lose much of the power we have to shape that future,” writes Moore.

“What is required, then – and what an enervating pessimism makes all the more difficult – is the constant renewal of energies for tasks that must be performed fresh in each generation, and repeatedly within each generation. Which means that what is required is the resistance of apathy, and the constant renewal of patience, and of hope.”

Like Moore, Costello is not a pessimist himself and sees any world without compassion as a world that has totally lost its humanity. The Cost of Compassion challenges us about our own definition of compassion and what is the personal cost of becoming more compassionate.

Costello acknowledges his own contradictions when it comes to compassion. The dis-ease as he walks past a person begging on the street or the complexity of showing compassion to someone who might be described as “your enemy”.

“The literal meaning of the word compassion is to suffer with,” Costello writes. “It means caring enough for someone to share in their suffering – to join them in it. It is costly.”

He also reminds us that all people can demonstrate compassion as well as receive it. “Human frailty and vulnerability are universal,” Costello says. “It must be a two-way street.”

These books can be easily read in an afternoon and are packed with references to philosophers, academics, social justice campaigners, killer jellyfish and Chicken Little.

The Pleasures of Pessimism and The Cost of Compassion can be purchased from Koorong.

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The Pleasures of Pessimism

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The Cost of Compassion

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