Simone: A Saint for Outsiders

A Biographical Novel

by James D. Yoder



Book Details

Language :
Publication Date : 1/11/2002

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 5.5x8.5
Page Count : 281
ISBN : 9781401019914
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 5.5x8.5
Page Count : 281
ISBN : 9781401019907

About the Book

In 1928, Simone Weil, a young Jewish girl claiming agnosticism, enters the University of Paris desiring to become a philosophy teacher. Simone’s mind flourished under acclaimed Professor Alain´s lectures. However, antagonist, Professor Bougle, is offended by Simone Weil´s left-wing leanings and pacifism, labeling her "The Red Virgin."

On a quest, Simone asks: "What is the meaning of my life? What is a self? Are there inspirations that come from outside this world? How is work related to truth?"

Encouraged to read the Gospels and observe religious ceremonies, Simone opens her soul, however not without keeping her feet in the world by organizing a "workers´ college," to aid the unemployed.

In Le Puy, Simone challenges her college girls by her unorthodox methods, exploring: "is there a way to overcome life´s contradictions?" She rushes to the aid of starving stoneworkers, leading them in a strike to the city hall. Reprimanded by authorities and demeaned by the press, Simone is undaunted.

An antagonistic force, migraine headaches, flattens her. She asks: "Is there meaning in affliction?´ But Simone has no time to concentrate on "self," as she descends into a coal mine to study working conditions in order to write honestly about them.

When the college administrator calls her a "mushroom on a manure pile," then fires her, she is undaunted, thanking him for such honors.

While teaching at two more girls´ colleges, Simone continues to learn from the afflictions and hopes of the laborers, and whether or not there is anything on the earth that can overcome brute necessity. If "gravity" weighs people down, is there such a thing as "grace"?

Checking her insights with her old classmate, Petre, and sustained by the support of her parents, Beri and Mime, as well as her gifted brother, André, the "Red Virgin" sallies forth where actual angels fear to tread.

Simone throws herself on the assembly line, gaining direct experience of factory life, asking, "Is there any meaning here? Can workers sustain themselves? Why don´t they resist oppression?" Simone falters at the furnace, concluding that such conditions make slaves of people, and slaves cannot revolt. She marvels that she is allowed to get on the bus, and that there is a space for such a broken slave as she. Like Mary in the Gospels, she keeps these ideas in her heart for later pondering, when she develops a Theology of Affliction and the Crucifixion of Christ.

Broken in spirit and with never-ending headaches, Simone journeys to Portugal where she is overpowered by songs of poor fishermen´s wives. She concludes, "Slaves cannot help but becoming Christians, and I, as well."

Visiting the little church where St. Francis prayed in Assisi, she fell on her knees for the first time in her life, overpowered by a presence of Christ.

Pondering the meaning of war and conflict, Simone joins resisters in the Spanish Civil war where she is badly burned, her pacifism, confirmed.

Denied teaching posts because she is a Jew and broken in body, Simone spends Easter in an abbey in Solesmes in Italy. Again, she is overpowered by the presence of Christ, as she recites George Herbert´s poem, "Love." Doubt removed, Simone knows that a transcendent power, in the form of Christ, crosses all voids and can embody human hearts.

No longer able to teach, she labors in Gustav Thibon´s vineyard. Here she recites the Lord´s Prayer in Greek, but not more than twice a day, as the Divine Passion overwhelms her. She struggles to understand this experience, she, an outsider, always on the side of the oppressed, she the agnostic, the one unwilling to subscribe to all that the Church teaches. "What does it mean?" She asks herself.

Discovering Father Perrin, a soul-friend who listens to the accounts of her spiritual journey, she asks: "Should I be baptized?

About the Author

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised on a farm, James D. Yoder’s stories reflect his Midwestern roots. With degrees from Goshen College, Central Missouri State, and the University of Missouri, K. C., his career includes clergy, teaching, and counseling psychology. Lucy of the Trail of Tears is Yoder’s fifth novel.