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The Pharisee and the Publican

October 24, 2004

The Irish writer Iris Murdoch said that human beings are naturally self-absorbed and that what we need, consequently, are spiritual exercises that break us out of the narrow confines of our egos. Learning a foreign language can be such an exercise, as can a confrontation with real beauty. Authentic prayer–the kind exemplified in the humble petition of the Publican–also serves this purpose.